Reign of Christ: An “At Table” Service Thanksgiving Weekend

Psalm 46, Luke 23:33-43

An “At Table” liturgy invites us to put the meal back into our ritual of Holy Communion. “At Table” connects us to our ancient church which gathered in this way to worship and remember the acts and deeds of Jesus. Jesus’ early followers gathered at table with drink, food, and prayers. They shared stories about Jesus and how to live out their faith amidst Roman Empire.

Reign of Christ Sunday is both a beginning and an end in our liturgical calendar. This “At Table” liturgy honors that liturgical transition between Ordinary Time and Advent, and images Christ not as one dominating on a throne or high altar but rather resting and hosting us at a table. 

This liturgy invites us to do the same—engaging in deep conversation as Jesus did with the poor and broken; breaking the bread and pouring the cup as Jesus did with his closest companions, figuring out how to live a life of faith in a world of dominating powers as he invited his followers to do, and giving thanks, singing, and praying as Jesus did throughout his earthly life.

Fill liturgical space with tables and chairs. Maybe you can do this in your sanctuary. Or your fellowship hall. Or outside or where you host fellowship after worship. Fill a space with table, chairs, maybe blankets for families to sit on. The meal doesn’t have to be elaborate—cheese, fruit, nuts, breads or soup and salad could be the meal. Ask someone to bake the bread. Each person should have a tea light for the candlelighting in the service.  Have nametags available for people to use so everyone can call each other by name.

Preparation and Setting of Tables

Preparing for “At Table” is the work of the community, not just one or two people. Gather at the appropriate time before worship starts to prepare the simple meal and set the tables. This invitation to work together should be offered to all since work build community and holy connections. Don’t worry if you are working while people are arriving for worship. Consider it an invitation and opportunity to invite people (visitors and old-timers alike!) into the work of preparation.

Opening Song: "Give Thanks, Worship and Praise"

Holy God,
One who forms the rhythm of our lives
the One who is present in the beginning and ending
of each day,
each season
the One who is alive at table in bread and in cup.
May we recognize your presence
in the bread we are about to break,
the meal we are about the share,
the cup we are about to pour.
For being here at table with you and all who gather,
we give thanks.

Brothers and Sisters,
we gather this Thanksgiving Sunday, on the threshold of Advent,
to share a meal, to tell our story, and to work together.
While at table, we shall sing, pray, share in conversation,
and break bread and drink from the cup.
These are the ways of the ancient, early Church,
and these are our ways.
All are welcome to eat and drink, there are no exceptions.

Candle Lighting
As we prepare our tables for what is to come,
we each light the candle in front of us,
and our songleader will sing “The Lord is My Light”
Watch. Listen. Notice as the light increases.
The light of Christ will grow within us, and around us.

"The Lord is My Light"

Silence: Sound a chime or bell to invite people into a time of silence, inviting them to gaze up on the light during the stillness.

Break the silence with the following song:

Song: Come, O Thankful People Come, TNCH 422

Words of Institution for the Bread

Song: "Christ At Table There with Friends", TNCH 227

Verse 1: Have presider or a songleader sing verse 1 of Christ at Table There with Friends, then have the congregation sing this same verse. 

Break the bread and share it around the tables with people calling each other by name and saying “The Bread of Life” while sharing the bread.

Sharing of the Meal: Conversation and Eating Around the Tables

Song of Preparation: "In the Lord I’ll be Ever Thankful"

Scripture: Luke 23:33-43

In the spirit of the ancient church, rather than reading the scripture off a page, have the reader memorize or know the story by heart and share the story from the oral tradition.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.


This is a compact sermon. The sermon can be five to six minutes and have the preacher stand and share where he/she is sitting at table.

Response to the Sermon:

As an extension of the sermon, offer a specific question related to the sermon. Give the congregation a few minutes to ponder out-loud with those around their tables.  

Song: "In the Midst of New Dimensions", TNCH  391

From our lives, we choose to offer our gifts.
Knowing that what we regard as excess,
others may need, and all that we need,
others may regard as excess.
May we recognize that when all share,
all are enriched.

In thanksgiving for what has been shared, we sing as one body:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Christ all creatures here below;
Praise Holy Spirit evermore;
Praise Triune God, whom we adore.
(Old Hundredth)

Prayer of the People:
We offer our prayers for the whole planet,
friends and strangers, and for ourselves.

For peace in the whole world,
for peace in (name location of your congregation)
and for what other places should we pray?
(people call out places in need of prayer).
For peace within and around the planet, let us pray to our God:
Holy One, have mercy. 

For the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned, for those without a table to eat.
Knowing God embraces the most broken,
who or what do we need to pray for?
(people call out their prayers)
For peace within and around the planet, let us pray to our God:
Holy One, have mercy. 

For peace for the dead and comfort for the mourners.
Knowing God brings life from death, who or what do we need to pray for?
(people call out their prayers).
For peace within and around the planet, let us pray to our God:
Holy One, have mercy.

For forgiveness, compassion, sharing, and love among creation everywhere
and the coming of a New Agelet us continue to share our prayers
(people call out their final prayers).
For peace within and around the planet, let us pray to our God:
Holy One, have mercy.

The Lord’s Prayer

Words of Institution with the Cup

Song:  "Christ At Table There with Friends", TNCH 227

Verse 4: Following the same pattern as the bread, have the presider or a songleader sing verse 4 of Christ at Table There with Friends, then have the congregation sing the same verse.

Pour the cup and share around the tables with people calling each other by name and saying the words, “The Cup of the Covenant.”

Clean-up: All gathered take part in a few minutes of cleaning-up the tables and space.

Final Song: "God Be the Love"

For food and drink
We give thanks!
For the bread and the cup!
We give thanks!
For being together in the ways of Jesus.
We give thanks!
For living in the ways of peace and community.
We give thanks!

Honoring the peace we have experienced,
let us share the peace with all around us.
May the Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
And also with you.
Share that peace with those around you.



An “At Table” Service for Reign of Christ Sunday, was written by the Rev. Ashley Goff, an ordained UCC minister serving at Church of the Pilgrims (PCUSA), Washington, DC.  “At Table” service customs are developing at Union Theological Seminary in NYC.

Copyright 2013 Local Church Ministries, Faith Formation Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved.