On a recent Lenten Sunday, worshipers at Willoughby Christian Reformed Church in Langley, British Columbia, arrived to the smell of fresh-baked bread. The warm, crusty loaves were brought into the sanctuary during the offering and placed on long tables stretched across the front of the church for communion.
Martin Contant and bread baker Joshua deGroot set out fresh bread for communion.
Willoughby member Joshua deGroot woke up early to prepare the dough for nine artisan loaves, which were then baked in the church kitchen ovens. As the congregation gathered around the tables to share in the cup, break bread, and pass the peace, they were reminded of the first meal around which Christ instituted this feast.
Fresh bread was just one of many elements that brought to life Willoughby’s Lenten theme. Celebrating Lent has long been a time of fasting from for many at Willoughby CRC.
This year, while not discouraging the fasting, pastors Mark Glanville and Martin Contant challenged the congregation to enjoy feasting together as well. Collaborating with worship team members, they focused messages on meals that Jesus participated in throughout the gospels.
“Lent has been a time where we have extended the radical welcome of Christ,” said Glanville. “The congregation has been challenged to extend a radical welcome to others.”
From lunch exchanges in homes to an after-church luncheon potluck to an “invite your neighbor for lunch Sunday,” Willoughby folk have been fasting and feasting.
The congregation also celebrated communion each Sunday during Lent, varying the way it was served each time, including by intinction (dipping the bread into the wine).
On Good Friday evening, the congregation will view the film Of Gods and Men after sharing a simple supper of homemade soup and bread.
“Our dinner table has been set for many people of all walks of life,” added Glanville. “Christ has offered us a welcome, and we called to extend that welcome to others in a variety of ways and places.”