The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
During a worship series on the temptations of Christ in the wilderness, we invited the congregation into the story in a powerful way. The real temptation here was less about bread and more about trust and power, right? Jesus was being tempted to use his own power to fill in the gaps, to meet his needs, instead of waiting on God. We asked the congregation this question:
What places in your life does the voice of evil convince you it’s too risky to rely on God?
They were asked to write their answers on stones that they picked up on their way into the sanctuary and bring them forward to place on the communion table, offering that place in their life back to God. What resulted was a powerful visual of the things that weigh us down, fears that grab ahold of us…
paying my bills ~ my diagnosis ~ finding a job ~ racial equality ~ my daughter’s addiction
all laid upon and held by the table of the sacrament of communion. A reminder that in all things, we can trust God, who poured himself out to overcome even death on our behalf. A few things to consider:
- Supplies needed: Rocks. Permanent markers. Containers for rocks. Table covering.
- Where to get the rocks: Resist the urge to get little pebble size stones. The heaviness of the rocks help folks to make the connection. Larger stones can be expensive at your average home improvement/garden store, but in many places that may be your only option. Weigh cost vs size in the way that works best for your church. In Charlotte, we have a large scale landscaping supply company called Blue Max Materials.They have tons of styles and sizes of rocks and materials that are sold by the ton (yes, I said ton). They are used to selling dump trucks full of rocks, but they will sell any amount by weight, and you can drive up to the giant pile of rocks you are interested in and handpick them! I got about 100 handpicked rocks this size for a little over $3. AND I got to drive my minivan on the truck scale, so there’s that.
- Wash the rocks first. No one likes unexpected dirt on their Sunday best.
- Place the rocks in buckets/baskets/containers of some sort at the sanctuary entrances and tell the greeters to instruct folks to pick out a stone as they enter.
- Have markers available in a way that works for your space and people. You could place them in the pew racks, have them grab a marker too as they enter, or have them at the table for people to write on their rock when they bring it forward (keep in mind this will take a little longer).
- Prepare the communion table by covering it to both look nice and to protect it from getting scratched by the rocks. Simple and stark is better here. We just used burlap.
This act of worship can be adapted to many scripture and themes. Make it work in your context. And let me know how it goes!