When I read a recent humorous blog called Fifty Ways to Take Communion on my friends site,
It reminded me of how many different ways Ive
taken communion over my Christian life. I have my preferred way, which is rarely done these days, but youll see which one that is as you read on.
First, the ever popular and most stressful way for me, intinction. You walk up to the front of the sanctuary, pull off a piece of the loaf of bread, move over to the elder who holds a chalice of juice and dip your piece of bread into the liquid and pop it into your mouth. This is not a simple task for a blind person. First, I have to arrange ahead of time for someone to walk me up to where communion is given. Otherwise, I might be left sitting there in embarrassment. Next, I have to pull off an appropriately sized piece of bread. How big is appropriate? Next, find the chalice. Then the next challenge is to moisten the bread without touching the surface of the juice with my fingers. Oops. I didnt get any. Oops. I guess that was too far. Next, I hope to get the bread into my mouth without dripping grape juice onto my white sweater.
Then there is the method of passing the elements among the congregation row by row. This is the most convenient for me, since I dont have to go parading around the sanctuary, and I dont have to leave my dog in the pew, wondering when Ill come back an if I have some bread for her. But there are moments of consternation here too. Should I hold the bread and wait for the signal to take it as a congregation? Or should I go ahead and eat it? What are other people doing? And will the pastor say to eat, or will he just make some kind of visual sign? Then do I hold the cup or drink the cup? Ive been in churches where each of these methods are used from time to time, but never consistently. Its not a big deal for someone who can see, and if you ask for a heads up before the service starts, nobody seems to know, and its rarely printed in the bulletin.
In a world where every physical move must be planned ahead, my least favorite way is to have to leave my seat and go through all the steps I mentioned above. Who has time to reflect on what were doing and why when we have to worry about all the logistics? Its much better for me to remain seated and be told discretely whether to hold the elements and partake as a group or to take them when were spiritually ready.
Did you have any idea that taking communion could be so complicated? It may not be 50 ways, but its enough to write home about.