So That All Are Fed

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One of the most common debates I have come across within the Church is something that I have never really understood- who receives communion. I grew up in a church where communion was served every week and a point was always made that anyone could receive communion.  However, there was always at least one person who made a fuss when my parents would allow my sisters and me, before baptism, to take part as they explained each element every week. For the longest time, I thought the conversation ended there- are children old enough or responsible enough for such an important aspect of worship. Fast-forward twenty years and I am hit with the fact that for many it isn’t just children who shouldn’t receive communion, but there is a longer list attached including exceptions.

After engaging in several, sometimes heated, discussions about when and where communion should be able to take place and who should be able to receive it, my visit to Thyatira Presbyterian Church was a breath of fresh air. As I stood around the Table with a few Elders before worship and they mentioned that the person to my right would need to be served first because they would be leaving to go to the nursery.

I stopped. I probably looked at them like they had three heads.

“You take communion to the nursery?” I asked.

“Well, yes. The people there need it to!”

I was blown away.

Now, I am a HUGE proponent of ensuring that ALL  people who wish to are able to receive communion but to find a congregation that goes to this length was incredible.

I have seen plates with one small cup and one small piece of bread sitting on the organ. I have heard people tell me that when they listen in on the intercom in another room, they pray while elements are passed but they don’t receive them down the hall. To take the time to send someone with plenty for all who are gathered down the hall- before worship even started, my heart was about to burst.

Finally, the time came and following a prayer and the Words of Institution, the Table was set. Elders spread throughout the sanctuary ensuring that everyone who wished to, received communion. The music played and the people prayed or looked around smiling at the others who had gathered. Yes, it did take an extra minute or two, but as we waited for the side door to open again and the final Elder to return from the nursery, I felt Christ’s presence in a new and powerful way.

Every denomination has guidelines that apply to this Holy moment in worship and there is debate around those guidelines in every denomination. However, when the moment comes to worship and praise God, and to serve God’s children in this truly unique and incredible way, all debate can and should come to an end as we serve only as vessels of God’s life-giving grace that truly is for ALL.

How does your congregation ensure that all who wish to take part in any or all elements of worship are able to?

Rev. Jordan B. Davis
Church Relations Officer

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5 thoughts on “So That All Are Fed

  1. So, a sincere question: if there are people in the congregation (visitors are another topic) who are not baptized, and yet want to take communion, why are they not choosing to be baptized? If the Lord’s Supper is a fulfillment of the promises pronounced at baptism, then why would we encourage a practice that, effectively, denies the love and grace of those promises?

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    • I can not answer for others as to why they choose one or the other, unless it is a lack of understanding. As people who have extensively studied this, it seems like common sense to us. Is it taught and regularly communicated in our congregations though, to a point where it is not just heard but understood?

      To the second question you raised- I stand by the PCUSA Book of Order that says we are to ensure that those who are baptized are able to receive communion, but it does not say that we are to turn away others. I personally invite ALL to the Table trusting that God is at work in each life. I am only one person and a small vessel that God works through. I believe that by putting God back in and taking myself out, I am extending God’s love and grace in a way that these individuals might not be able to experience otherwise.

      I hope that answers your question!

      Grace, Peace, and Joy!

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  2. We include all who want to be served. We also use gluten free bread so that our parishioners with celiac disease or gluten intolerances can fully participate in communion.

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    • Fantastic! I am seeing Gluten Free show up more now. I love that congregations are taking this need into consideration and making it possible for each person to partake from the same loaf. Thanks for sharing!

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