How to receive Communion
We receive both the bread and wine at communion. We process up to the altar rail and either stand or kneel. The normal custom is to kneel, except during the Easter season, when we all stand in celebration of the victory won for us on the cross. However, standing is always an option for those with difficulties kneeling.
Bread: To receive the bread, place both hands out together, receive the bread on the palm of your hand, and consume it. If you are gluten intolerant, please let the priest know as they come to you, and they will give you a gluten free wafer.
Wine: We share a common cup (chalice) to signify our union with Christ and one another. Often the question arises as to whether it is safe to drink from the chalice. "People who sip from the Communion cup don't get sick more often than anyone else," said Anne LaGrange Loving, a New Jersey microbiologist who has conducted one of the few studies on the subject. "It isn't any riskier than standing in line at the movies." You are probably more likely to get an infection from Passing the Peace.
There are those who choose not to receive for a number of reasons. It is perfectly acceptable to receive only the bread. If you wish to bypass the chalice, simply cross your arms over your chest to indicate so to the Chalice Minister. You may also have the bread dipped (intincted) in the wine. We encourage the practice of simply holding the bread on the palm of your hand as you received it and letting the Chalice Minister dip it in the wine and place it on your tongue. If you do choose to intinct it yourself, hold the bread by one end and dip just the other end in the wine. You do not want to dip your fingers in the wine.
To receive the wine, it is very helpful to grasp the lower rim of the chalice to guide it to your mouth.
Reflect on the readings for the coming Sunday:
Pray Morning Prayer without having to look everything up: Morning Prayer Rite II or Morning Prayer Rite I
Or use Daily Prayer Anytime for a short version of Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, or Compline. Be sure to visit the Daily Prayer Preferences page to choose your options for this.
The Holy Eucharist, known as Communion
Our worship harkens back to the very first Christians, and beyond. As Jesus was born into the house of David and his first followers were fellow Jews, the early Christian worship evolved from the two sources of Jewish worship: the synagogue and the temple.
Synagogue worship is comprised of two main elements: listening and responding to the Word of God and prayer. The Word consisted of reading from their scriptures, hearing it proclaimed, then expounded on in a sermon. Their prayers developed into set prayers to give structure to the worship. They also sang songs (in Greek- psalms).
The first part of our worship is the Ministry of the Word, which echoes the elements of synagogue worship. Based on hearing the scriptures read (proclaimed). We read four passages each Sunday according to a three year cycle. These include a passage from the Old Testament, a psalm, and two selections from the New Testament – one gospel reading and one from other portions. We respond to these in the sermon, in affirming our Creedal faith in reciting the Nicene Creed[i], and in prayer.
The second root of our worship grew out of temple worship. This was about sacrifice, the two main ones being for atonement, to be right with God, and for thanksgiving for his blessings. As Jesus became the sacrifice to make us one with God once for all, we remember[ii] Jesus and his gift of reconciliation to all who believe. The primary “lens” of our focus is the Last Supper, our communion in which the bread and wine become for us the Body and Blood, the Real Presence of Christ to and within us.
The other aspect of temple sacrifice is thanksgiving. This is the core tone of our worship. We even call our worship by the Greek name “Eucharist,” which means “thanksgiving.” We thank God for all his blessings, but most for the gift he gave us in Jesus. We pray that we become a living sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God’s glory.
The Prayers we use, artfully compiled from early Christian worship sources by Thomas Cranmer in the first Book of Common Prayer, and by others, represent prayers used thorough the ages by the faithful, and connect our current generation with those from ages past, as those who turn to God in prayer. We have many other services of worship in this book, including daily prayer services that, once more, trace their heritage in history from the monastic practices to those of the ancient Jews. We also have rites[iii] for many life events, from marriage to baptism[iv] (of the next generation), to healing, to death.
Why set prayers recorded in a book? Doesn’t this lose the immediacy of spontaneous prayer? While we certainly encourage spontaneous praying, the early church quickly found it necessary to formalize many prayers of worship. This was to combat the many false teachings regarding the faith that were prevalent in the early years of the faith, and to give structure and form lest it devolve into the whims of the celebrant (the one leading the worship). Our use of these prayers connects us with the Body of Christ through the ages. (Some of these prayers are found in the earliest Christian writings.) They also connect us with Christians worshiping around the world. Many have discovered that the process of praying these prayers week after week ingrains them deeply within, adding multiples layers of meaning, and touching us on many levels.
[i] The Nicene Creed is one of the early summaries of faith forged by the Christian Church (this one in the year 325) in response to the threat of false teachings regarding our Trinitarian faith in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We also use the earlier Apostle’s Creed in worship, and other early creeds are found in a historical document section in our Book of Common Prayer.
[ii] The concept of remembering here is not just mentally recalling something from the past. It is to “re-member”, or make present through our affirmation that we are the forgiven children of God through Jesus’ sacrifice.
[iii] A “rite” is the form, the structure of a worship service, given flesh in prayer crafted by Christians through the ages. We also use the term “liturgy”, which refers to “what the people do” in a worship service. For more on this, see the video above.
[iv] We follow the practice, recorded from the early centuries of Christianity, of infant baptism. Parents and sponsors take vows on behalf of the child to raise them in the love and knowledge of the Lord. Each person is expected to affirm, or confirm, those vows in Confirmation, receiving (according to the practice of the early church) laying on of hands by the bishop, whose function in part is to represent the whole Body of Christ).