Holy Communion

Communion Questions and Answers

Dr. Gregory S. Neal, United Methodist Elder, p...

Image via Wikipedia


Why do United Methodists call this sharing of bread and cup by different names, such as Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, and Eucharist?

Each of these names is taken from the New Testament and highlights certain facets of this sacrament’s many meanings. Calling it the Lord’s Supper reminds us that it is a meal instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ and hosted by him at his table whenever it takes place. Calling it Holy Communion reminds us that it is an act of the most holy and intimate sharing, making us one with Jesus Christ and part of his body, the church. Calling it the Eucharist, a term taken from the New Testament Greek word meaning thanksgiving, reminds us that giving thanks to God for all that God has done is an essential part of the meal. By using different names we acknowledge that no single name can contain the rich wealth of meanings in this sacred act.

What do United Methodists mean when they call this act a sacrament?

Our Confession of Faith states: “We believe the sacraments, ordained by Christ, are symbols and pledges of the Christian’s profession and of God’s love toward us. They are means of grace by which God works invisibly in us, quickening [bringing to life], strengthening and confirming our faith in him. Two Sacraments are ordained by Christ our Lord, namely Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.” The term is taken from the Latin sacramentum, which was a Roman soldier’s pledge of allegiance. A sacrament is God‘s pledge of allegiance [love and faithfulness] to us, and our answering pledge of allegiance to God.

Do United Methodists believe that the bread and wine physically or chemically change into Christ’s flesh and blood in this sacrament?

No, we believe that the change is spiritual. They signify the body and blood of Christ for us, helping us to be Christ’s body in the world today, redeemed by Christ’s blood. We pray over the bread and the cup that they may make us one with Christ, “one with each other, and one in service to all the world.”

I am a Christian, but not a United Methodist. Am I invited to receive Communion in a United Methodist church?

Yes indeed. It is the Lord’s Supper, not ours, and it is Christ who invites you. As our ritual puts it: “Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin and seek to live in peace with one another.” We do not refuse any who present themselves desiring to receive. Whether you should receive Communion with us is between you and God.
I do not wish to receive Communion because doing so would be disloyal to my religion or my denomination. May I attend a United Methodist Communion service and not receive Communion?
Yes indeed. We do not want anyone to feel unwelcome because, for whatever reason, they do not choose to receive Communion. Simply remain seated when others go forward, or pass the bread and cup along if they are passed to you, and no one will question what you do.

Should I receive Communion if I feel unworthy?

Two thousand years ago Jesus ate with sinners and those whom others scorned. He still does. None of us is worthy, except by God’s grace. Thank God we don’t have to earn worth in God’s eyes by our goodness or our faith. Your sacred worth, and ours, is God’s free gift. No matter what you have done or what your present condition, if you want Christ in your life you are welcome at his table. Communion provides the opportunity for you to confess your sins, to receive forgiveness, and to indicate your intention to lead a new life.

May young children receive Communion?

Certainly. As The United Methodist Book of Worship puts it, “All who intend to lead a Christian life, together with their children, are invited to receive the bread and cup.” We remember that when some of Jesus’ disciples tried to keep children away from him he said: “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14 NRSV).

But do young children know what they are doing when they receive Communion?

Do they understand the full meaning of this holy sacrament? No, and neither do any of us. It is a wonderful mystery, and children can sense wonder and mystery. Children cannot understand the full significance of family meals, but we feed them at our family tables and at Christ’s family table. Young children experience being loved by being fed. They sense the difference between being included and excluded at a family meal. They have the faith of a child, appropriate to their stage of development, which Jesus recognized and honored. Indeed, he said to adults: “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15 NRSV).

May I receive Communion without standing or kneeling?

Certainly. In some United Methodist congregations most persons receive Communion while standing, while in others most receive while kneeling; but you are always welcome to receive while seated. If others are kneeling at the rail, you may remain standing and you will be served. You may also come forward and be seated on the front row, or come forward in your wheelchair, and you will be served. Or you may notify an usher, and someone will come to you and serve you where you are seated.

If someone in my family wishes to receive Communion but cannot come to the church service, can Communion be brought to them?

Certainly. As an extension of the congregation’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper, Communion is brought to persons, wherever they are, who wish it but could not attend the service. This can be done by the pastor or other clergy, or by designated laypersons.

Is Communion possible at weddings, at healing services, or at funerals or memorial services?

Yes. If you wish to arrange this, talk with your pastor.

Excerpt from United Methodists and Communion: Some Questions & Answers by Hoyt L. Hickman. Copyright © 2001 The United Methodist Publishing House.

Categories: Faith Journey, Holy Communion | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Sacrament of Holy Communion

The sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion are crucial means of grace, or vehicles, that God uses to reach humanity.  They are channels by which the grace and love of God flows, and it is through them that we can receive prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace.  They are outward and visible signs of an inward, invisible grace.

The sacrament of Holy Communion confirms the justification of our sins through the action of Christ.  It also refreshes and strengthens our souls as Wesley described in “The Duty of Constant Communion.”  The Christian life is not an easy journey, and there are temptations and stumbling blocks along the way.  As with our physical life, which requires proper nutritional sustenance in order to grow, our spiritual life also requires sustenance, which is found in the bread and wine of Holy Communion.  We obtain our strength from this sacrament, and it is the “food of our soul.”  Holy Communion is a remembrance, a commemoration, and a memorial, but it is more than just a simple intellectual recalling.  It is a representation of past gracious acts of God in an action that makes them present today.  Jesus Christ is risen from the grave and alive in the here and now.

Last summer my wife and I directed a Senior High Camp at Sumatanga.  One night during the week, Holy Communion was included in the worship service, and I witnessed the power and significance of the sacrament in a wonderful way. A young man, who was a junior in high school,  had become a very popular youth in the camp and was a guy whom everyone just seemed to like and looked up to.  During the Communion portion of the service, everyone was invited to stay at the altar and pray as long as needed.  I noticed that young man was staying for an extended time, and then I noticed his shoulders quivering from crying.  I went over and asked him if I could pray with him, and he just grabbed hold of my hands.  Without my saying a word, he started telling me that he was not worthy of what Christ had done for him and that he was not living the life that God was calling him to live.  Through tears we prayed together.  He asked God for forgiveness and the strength to live the life that God had called him to live.  Through the sacrament of Communion, God reached out to Frank (Not his real name) and confirmed the justification of sin through Christ and conveyed a grace that went straight to the heart of this young man.

Categories: Church, Faith Journey, Holy Communion, John Wesley | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Communion Memories: Sandra Annonio

Memorable Communion Memory:  The one after my girls were baptized. How great it is we are family by blood in more ways than one.

Categories: Faith Journey, Holy Communion | Leave a comment

Communion Memories: Hilda Barnes

This is a funny one. A little girl from our church many years ago took communion with her mother and on their way home she asked “Mommy what is it that we drink when we go down to the alter?” Her Mom said “grapejuice”. Litttle girl, “Did you know Bro. Tim thinks it is blood?”

Categories: Church, Faith Journey, Holy Communion | Leave a comment

Communion Memories: Shelby Snead

My most memorable communion experience was watching you tear up as Noah dipped his bread for the very first time. My second was a few months later when SJ did the same.

Categories: Church, Faith Journey, Holy Communion, The Bridge | Leave a comment

Communion by Rev Ted Leach

For me, communion is a way of receiving God’s undeserved love, which we sometimes call grace.  I cup my hands to receive the bread as a gesture of receptiveness.  The bread and the cup are reminders of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, which was a celebration of the Passover meal on the night that he was arrested.  The last supper was in close proximity to the death and resurrection of Jesus.  So, receiving communion draws me closer to the cross, which for me symbolizes God’s love for me and for all creation.  The bread represents the body of Christ, which also connects me to all who trust in Jesus as savior, the church, the Body of Christ in the world. The bread’s symbolic meaning didn’t begin with Jesus, but with the Passover meal’s unleavened bread, which reminds me of God’s saving action throughout history, including the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt.  The cup reminds me of the blood of Christ, or more specifically, his death on the cross.  That, too, has its roots in the Passover meal, which included several cups of wine.  One was the cup of blessing.  Each sabbath, when Jews gather today, they still lift the cup of blessing.  Another cup at Passover was placed there for Elijah, whom Jews still expect to return before the Messiah comes.  Some people think when Jesus passed the cup among his disciples that he took Elijah’s cup.  If so, that may have been a way of saying, “You no long need to wait for the Messiah.”  Now that I’ve lived a significant number of years, each time I receive communion, it also reminds me of places I’ve received communion in the past and the people with whom I shared the bread and cup.  This includes countless worship services in churches, in gatherings of the Annual Conference, in clergy meetings, in the Holy Land, on mission trips to Latin America, at Donaldson Prison–including Death Row.  John Wesley called communion a means of grace, and I believe he was right.  We call it a sacrament, a holy act, like baptism.  We call it the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, or the Eucharist (which is a Greek word for “Thanksgiving”).  Communion is all this, and as I grow older, I discover more and more of its power and meaning.


Categories: Church, Holy Communion | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Communion Testimony: Jennifer Haselden

3rd quarter of 16th century

Image via Wikipedia

I saw your FB post at Communion Testimony and I just couldn’t help but share this story:

In Feb. 2009 Dad and I went on a 2 1/2 week tour of Israel and the Holy Land with a group from our church. It was the trip of a lifetime! I will never read the bible the same again!  Anyways, one of our last days we were in Jerusalem and got to go to the Upper Room. Obviously the original building that Jesus and the disciples were in for the Last Supper is not there anymore, but it is believed to be rebuilt in the same place. We bought bread and juice and carried it with us most of the day (all the way down the Via Delorosa) just so that we could take Communion together IN the Upper Room.
Our group prayed and sang together and then took communion, and as we were almost finished and I was helping Dad serve, another group came in. (The were hispanic, but I have no idea what nationality they were)  One woman spotted our group taking communion, got very excited and started walking towards us, but her friend grabbed her arm and pulled her back and  kind of gestured to our nametags letting her know that it was just for our group.  I will never forget how the woman’s face dropped in sadness… She definitely understood the significance of where she was and wanted so desperately to participate with us.  I was still holding the bread so I waved really big to her and motioned for her to come over. Her face lit up SO BRIGHT.  She then dragged the Other woman into our group and I served them both communion.  Then THEY grabbed everyone else in their group and we served them all. We couldnt communicate through speech with these people, but we communicated through the sacrament.

The best part :   Since we were leaving, we handed the leftover bread and juice to the group that had already been there when we arrived. They were from Ethiopia, and spoke very little English, but they understood what we were giving them and began to serve their group.
Three groups, as racially and culturallly  different as possible took communion together, with no words exchanged.   The words we did share – those to the hymn “Amazing Grace” – I will NEVER forget walking out the doorway of that room hearing “grace will lead us home ….”

It was such a beautiful representation of what the church and the Body of Christ SHOULD be.

LIFE CHANGING- that’s for sure.

~Jennifer Haselden~

Categories: Church At Chelsea Park, Faith Journey, Holy Communion, John Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,460 other followers

%d bloggers like this: