What? No communion?

This was my exact reaction to one aspect of the Presbyterian service I attended the other day. It’s not that I’ve never been to a church that didn’t have some kind of communion (or communion lite) as part of the service. But it’s been awhile, and I spent some time doing my usual worrying [“Should I do it? Should I not? Wonder where I walk to get there? I hope I don’t fall and crack a tooth.”] before I realized that there was no such in the program.

I missed it. How goofy is that? I never know whether I should do it, as I’ve discussed in earlier posts, but despite that I missed that part of the service. It seems like a very personal part of a gathering to worship, and without it, there just seemed to be something missing from the experience. I haven’t been able to determine whether this is the usual practice for Presbyterians but it doesn’t seem that way, and my gues is that it isn’t even the usual practice for this church.

What does communion (I suppose I should be saying the Eucharist) really mean to people? Do you believe in transubstantiation? What does it mean, not doctrinally, but personally to you? Comment away.


6 Responses to “What? No communion?”

  1. 1 Bec March 28, 2007 at 7:13 am

    There’s a very interesting book Mass Culture by a guy called Pete Ward, that looks at ‘communion’ from a variety of doctrinal perspectives.

  2. 2 Joseph Eggleston March 28, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    “What does it mean, not doctrinally, but personally to you?”

    That’s a great question. First, let me say that I think it is great that as an ‘outsider,’ you missed the communion service when it wasn’t there. My home congregation celebrates communion at every service, and the church that I presently serve celebrates it every Sunday, alternating between the two services.

    So what does communion mean to me? For me, it is the highlight of the worship service. It gives a clear expression of the Christian faith, since in it we approach the Lord at his altar in order to receive what he gives us (as opposed to us going to God to give Him something, as if He needs our gifts!). Truly, we don’t take communion for the Lord’s benefit – the benefit is all ours. Closeness with God’s saints (those present physically, and those separated or departed), true fellowship with Christ, and reconciliation to the Lord and one another are all things that I focus on during the Supper. And of course, it is the Lord’s Supper, not mine or the churches, so I like to constantly examine myself to see if I am receiving it worthily.

  3. 3 Diane March 28, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Funny – I have a “thing” with communion. Its my personal thing and I don’t impose it on anyone, not even my kids.

    A few years ago I looked at the Passover or Seder meal that Jesus was partaking in at the Last Supper. And it came to me that when he said ‘whenever you do this, do this in remembrance of me’ that he was talking about that particular holiday for the Jewish people. So he meant, when we have Passover, we are supposed to remember him.

    So I think that he really meant for us to only have communion once a year. I know – its a wierd thought and I’ve never heard anyone else say it, but there it is.

    I’m not saying that I think its wrong to have communion more often, I’m just saying that its not something that I need to do very often. Does that make sense?

    But our church, a Methodist church, celebrates communion once a month and they encourage the whole family, so I always partake once a month with my husband and children. But in the back of my mind, I always wonder….”is this what he meant for us to do?”

    The way I explain it to my children is hat its our way of sitting down to a meal with God and fellowshipping with Him, just like we do with our own families every night. This is how I guess I feel about it when we do it at other times of the year, other than during “Holy Week”.

    My kids, of course, don’t understand why we don’t get “seconds”!

  4. 4 Phil March 31, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    What does it mean, not doctrinally, but personally to you?

    Receiving communion is the way I can have the most intimate, personal experience of God while I am still on this earth. Let me explain. Pretend you and Mr. X were married. Are there levels of intimacy that you could share with him? Yes. Talking in person is more intimate than talking over emails, correct? A kiss on the lips is more intimate than a kiss on the hand, correct? Enjoying marital intercourse is more intimate than say reading a love letter from Mr. X, correct? Could we even say that marital intercourse is the peak of intimacy for you and Mr. X, A consummating of the marriage vows you promised to each other? In marital intercourse there is a sharing of bodies, souls, ones total self (I know there are stipulations and exceptions, there are a lot of broken, wounded marriages out there), again meant to draw you ever closer to God and each other, to be the peak of intimacy for a married couple. My point is this; we are the bride to Christ the groom. God loves us so much that he wants a deep, marital (read the Old Testament prophets), intercoursal relationship with us. And the way he has ordained that is through the reception of the Eucharist. It is there where we can have the deepest, most intimate relationship with God on this earth. But the benefits don’t just stop there. When I am in deep union with God, it draws me into deep and better unions with my fellow man as well as in a better relationship with myself. I call it the Sacrament of Restoration. Restoring us to ourselves, man with man, and man with the Triune God (Triune God meaning we are brought up into the amazing, ecstatic love affair of the Father loving the Son, Son loving the father and because this love is so real it is actually a person- the Holy Spirit).

    Do you believe in transubstantiation?

    Yes I do believe in transubstantiation. As a Catholic I believe that Jesus is truly, really, physically present in Catholic communion. It is more than a symbolic, metaphoric, or mystical presence. It is a real presence, a physically presence. That is why Catholics are either committing idolatry by worshiping bread (I would hope my non Catholic brothers and sister would want to correct me of my ways, if they did believe that communion was just bread) or we have an amazing gift that we are inviting the world to participate in (I would hope my non Catholic brothers and sister would want to take the steps to join me in this amazing gift if they see the truth in this that I see).

  5. 5 hdolezalek April 3, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks, Phil, that’s a very personal way to describe communion. I never thought of it that way.

  6. 6 Brother Bob April 7, 2007 at 3:56 am

    My church only has communion twice each quarter (one Sunday night service and one Sunday morning service), so when it comes around, it’s very special. This year we are having communion on Easter Sunday, which is unusual for us. It should be really special.

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