An Agape for Easter

This article is from Issue 7 of “On The Move,” a publication of new learning possibilities for churches, at one time published by The Joint Board of Christian Education of Australia and New Zealand.
Although some ideas and liturgies may appear somewhat “dated” in style, concept, imagery or language, they may nevertheless offer a spring-board for new ideas among people who find themselves leading worship, perhaps in a new context, and with some trepidation.
Reproduced by permission. May be reprinted for use in local congregations only.

An Agape Meal is a very happy way for Christians to enjoy each other’s company! 
An Agape for Easter 

The Fellowship Meal not only goes back to the early days of the church it was brought into the church from the parent-faith, Judaism. The meals enjoyed by Jewish religious fraternities, the meals described in the Gospel stories, the meals in Jewish homes today on Sabbath Eve or Festival, records in early Christian writings all help us to understand what an Agape is.In modern times the Agape was revived by the Moravians, and through them by the Methodists, under the name “Love-Feast”.

It would seem that today the Agape can have a significant place in the practice of ecumenical hospitality.

[This abbreviated form of the service is offered to readers as a model of what one Christian community produced as an expression of their faith in response to their particular concerns. It is not offered as a fixed order to be taken and used elsewhere. Rather it is an example, offered as encouragement to take this very old practice and let is become alive again for you and your group with fellowship in worship expressing your own corporate life.]

* People gather in the gloom.

* Quiet music is being played.

* The lady of the house lights the lamp and says these words, or something like them:
You are welcome to this house.
May the Lord give us a happy time together.
Let us offer a candlelight prayer.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.
We give you thanks, O God,
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord;
for in his face
we see the light of the knowledge of your glory;
and in him
you have called us out of darkness
into your marvellous light.
You gave us light in the daytime hours;
light for our work,
light for our joy;
for “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all”.
Now we have come to the edge of the night,
and we do not lack light for evening time;
for “the Lord is our everlasting light
and our God our glory”.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end, Amen.

Verses from a Psalm are read to remind us that we are in Gods presence always and he is light.

Once you were darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord;
walk as children of light.
Once you were no people, but now you are Gods People:
Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Christ called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
There is a contrast between then and now
darkness and light 
being called out of and being called into Something has happened:
there has been a change, a transition, a conversion.
Reflect for a moment on the contrast:
once … but now
darkness … light
out of . .. into

1. We may call this change.
Darkness was upon the face of the deep … and God said, Let there be light …
Once the universe was no the universe is.
The creation was called out of chaos into life: and God said….

2. We may call this change
We know what walking in the dark means. Our surroundings are dingy.
The immediate context of our life is obscure. We do not easily discern one another.
We are easily startled. We can quickly become anxious or afraid.
Or we can panic simply through not being sure. We may stumble or trip. We grope.
But a light has come!
The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord.
There is an inner light of conscience and reason.
There is the “word, a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
There is this little ration of light, guidance for the next step ahead,
and perhaps the one after that!
There is the true light that enlightens every man…
There is man’s capacity to respond to Gods revelation.
Once there was not the knowledge of God: now there is knowledge of God.

3. We may call this change
Once you were darkness…
Jesus said: I have come as light into the world,
that whoever believe in me may not remain in darkness…
He also said: I am the light of the world;
he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.
Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord
We were called out of our darkness into his light.
It is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness”,
who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

4. We may call this change
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole earth until the ninth hour…
And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen…
The light of that Easter dawn grows to an eternal day,
for the City which is home “has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it,
for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the lamb”.

The Paschal Candle is now lit.
The President says: Christ our Light.
Thanks he to God.
Come, receive light from Christ: now you are light in the Lord.
The guests form a procession, and each persons taper is lighted from the Paschal Candle.
They take their places at the table. During the procession there is singing.

The reading from Lukes Gospel of the Easter evening story “the Road to Emmaus” was read in dramatic form by voices for narrator, Christ, Cleopas and companion.


Be present, be present, Lord Jesus,
as you were in the midst of your disciples;
and make yourself known to us in the breaking of the bread:
(Here the President breaks bread) 
for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.
(The bread is then passed around, each person in turn breaking off a piece.)

The menu: various kinds of bread and biscuits, cheeses, hardboiled eggs, fish in sandwiches, fruit (grapes, olives, apples), honey.
Towards the end of the meal, it may be appropriate to read a poem.
Prayers of intercession are offered; there is a song, and a thanksgiving.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.
We give thanks to God for light:
the light shed by the evening lamp, in its beam we see one another:
the light that shines from the Paschal Candle, sign of Christ our Risen Lord:
the light we give each other as we share our joy, our trust, our Easter hope.
We give thanks to God for words:
for words to give and words to receive in the exchange of meaning:
for words and signs, looks and gestures,
by which we tell our story, accept each other,
and share experiences together:
but more for the Word that, becoming flesh and dwelling among us,
became for us voice and meaning and experience of the living God.
We give thanks to God for food:
but more for the sharing of food in love:
for this agape:
but more for Christ the Bread of Life.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.


An appropriate dismissal will remind members of the group of the world which awaits them outside, and of their calling to be the light of the world. Each is encouraged to take the hand of a companion and go out carrying their lighted tapers. A brief dismissal, with a response of thanks, is all that is needed; a benediction is not required.

Abbreviated from An Agape for Easter, 1974, prepared by The Ecumenical Liturgical Centre, Kew. Dr. HF. Leatherland, honorary director, will be pleased to answer questions about the work of the centre and membership.

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