communion

On Sunday I will preside at communion for the first time.  I’m a little nervous, a little excited and a little scared in case I make a mess of it!

I’m not a minister.  I’m a youth worker.  I do quite a bit of preaching but I have no formal theological training.  The fact that I am allowed to conduct communion in the United Reformed Church speaks volumes about their real belief in what might be called ‘the priesthood of all believers’, that is that everyone who believes has a ministry.

The Church of Scotland, the denomination I grew up in, says it believes in the priesthood of all believers but retains a very definite divide between the ordained ministry of ‘word and sacrament’ (proper ministry) and all the rest.

I don’t get it.  Where does Jesus say ‘Do this to remember me, but only if you have a theology degree.’?  He didn’t.  He said that whenever we gather around the table we should take bread and remember his sacrifice for us and take wine and remember the new covenant.  Is it really more complicated than that?

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14 Responses to communion

  1. mshedden says:

    Good point Stewart, but the Anglican in says that high view of church leads to a high view of the sacraments. And because I am beginning to have a view of church I am beginning to have a higher view of how we handle the sacraments. I don’t like the only clergy thing because I feel like it should be practiced in more homes when people break bread, but at the same time I am not to happy with the open to everyone approach. Communion means so much to me and it can be abused so easily. I am struggling with this issue right now.

  2. chris says:

    In our (Episcopal) church, we regularly have a celebration of the Eucharist from the Reserved Sacrament which is entirely lay-led as our priest has 3 charges and has to be away at least one Sunday each month. It seems to me a good compromise (how Anglican!) in that the elements have been consecrated by an ordained person, retaining the high view of the sacrament, but are then administered by lay people. And you have to have a licence from the bishop to do this – so it’s not “just anybody”.

  3. Stewart says:

    I should have said… It is not just anyone who can preside in the URC either. You need to get premission from the area pastoral committee and can only preside in the congregation you saught permission for. Permission lasts for 1 year.

  4. bclc says:

    “You need to get premission from the area pastoral committee and can only preside in the congregation you saught permission for. Permission lasts for 1 year.” I don’t get it, where does Jesus say “Do this in remembrance of me, but only if you get permission from the area pastoral committee etc……”? Don’t be so precious. Jesus said “DO this” so just get out there and do it.

  5. Stewart says:

    Hi bclc.

    I’m not being precious, my denomination is. I was just clarifying the situation for those who read but know nothing about the United Reformed Church and it’s practice.

    I’m asking why pretty much all denominations have rules over who can and who can’t lead communion when the basic concept of sharing bread and wine and remembering Jesus when we do seems so simple and uncomplicated?

  6. JohnO says:

    Stewart said:
    “I’m asking why pretty much all denominations have rules over who can and who can’t lead communion when the basic concept of sharing bread and wine and remembering Jesus when we do seems so simple and uncomplicated?”

    Part of the problem is that it may seem simple and uncomplicated, but we (humankind) have a nasty habit of complicating things, or at least making a bit of a mess of them. Just look at Paul’s admonitions to the church in Corinth about the mess they were making of communion.
    The idea of ‘protecting the table’ stems from a long history of us making a mess of something simple.

  7. bclc says:

    JohnO, I think it is more sinister than that. This is to do with power. It is utterly ironic that the church has taken the simple message of Jesus’ ministry that we are all equal before God and should start acting that way, symolised by the sharing of bread and wine together, and turned into something that we need permission to do or must be done by figures of authority.

    Stewart, I am sorry I didn’t mean to imply that you were being precious, that bit was aimed more at the earlier comments. It did puzzle me that you appreared to be contradicting your original post in apparrently defending the URC’s position on this.

  8. […] started to write this a week or more ago and got stuck with it, then the other day I came across this. As you can see there are certain similarities in the thoughts expressed. I reckon that my comment […]

  9. Stewart says:

    I would agree with bclc. It has a whole lot to do with power. And the thing is you have no power over what is in my head and heart when I eat the bread and drink the wine so it is an illussion that the table can or should be fenced. Communion is the feast of sinners. How can anyone be barred from that? More than that, how can we get it wrong? Perhaps the way we get it wrong is to surround communion in legislation and barriers…

  10. JohnO says:

    Sorry, I’m not suggesting that anyone be barred from participating in communion. Apologies if that was how it came across.
    The idea of ‘protecting the table’ arose from the Reformation when much of the goings-on in churches was corrupted by false teaching and dodgy practices. Communion was ‘rediscovered’ and handed back to the people and was no longer a practice preserved for priests and a select few. In order to ensure that the correct teaching and symbology behind the sacrament was preserved, only those in ordained ministry were ‘trusted’ with officiating. But it was open to all to participate.

  11. bclc says:

    Stewart, if the way we do communion was the only thing wrong with the church I suspect that neither of us would be doing this kind of thing.

  12. Stewart says:

    I suspect you are right…

  13. Joseph says:

    Hey mate,
    Do what it is said in the bible, and you will be fine. Don’t get mixed up in the culture of different church dimonination, God looks at your heart and that is all that matters.

    God Bless,
    Joe

  14. Lee says:

    I was brought up Anglican & was involved in every area of the church at some point.I evetually sought ordination, but failed on two occasions, once in Wales where I was a PG student & in the US where i have been working as a Chaplain.
    Over the years, but mainly due to being a Chaplain, I began to ask questions about:Lay leadership,Baptiam,Communion, etc…
    I have concluded that each Denomination offer something that the others do not, but not one offers everthing.An example of Brokeness maybe?

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