The Lord's Supper - A Joyful Occasion?

Comments (6)

For the purposes of the post, I am going to refer to the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper as also meaning of Communioon, and Eucharist.  I realize that congregations choose to call the sacrament one of these titles, or sometimes all three, depending on the  congregation and their traditions.  

Growing up, The Lord's Supper was celebrated 4 times a year.  So when the "Silver" was on the table in the front of  the sanctuary, I knew it was going to be two things: a special service, and a long service.  I remember many things about the services, but I remember vividly the minister reading scripture during the distribution of the elements.  I also remember not being able to touch the trays as they went by.

During college I was able to recognize the importance of the Lord's Supper.  The connections it had with Scripture, and the meaning of the liturgy.  That's when it became joyful to me, but it was also a solemn sacrament.  Not until I became a staff person and worship director that I became more and more aware of the impact the Lord's Supper had in the service and in our faith journey.  But how should it be celebrated?  Joyfully? Solemnly?  4 times a year?  more often?  Different ways of distributing the elements? Different types of elements (wine vs. juice; different types of breads, etc.)? And how does that impact the service?  Or do we celebrate the Lord's Supper in the same manner because "that's the way we always have done it."  

I have also have witnessed the Lord's Supper done in a "cafeteria" style.  This is when you are ready in the service to take the Lord's Supper elements you may walk up to one of the stations placed around the worship space,  eat a piece of bread and drink a cup of wine.  After the service, I asked the worship leader about the way the Lord's Supper was served.  Astonishingly this person's response was, "I didn't want to take up extra time in worship for it."

So how do you celebrate the Lord's Supper?  With silver and trays? A full liturgy? People coming forward? In what ways are the services joyful or solemn?  I look forward to hearing your celebrations of this sacrament.

Posted in: Worship; Resource > Article Photo courtesy fcor1614 - http://www.flickr.com/photos/25793589@N03/4392733097/ Image: See Credit

Share This

Login or Register to post comments.

Comments

We celebrated Communion right after I was ordained, and I led Communion for the first time... After it was all done, and back at home, I asked my nephew (whose mother is Catholic) what he thought about Communion. He replied, "5 star rating!" "What? Why such an enthisiastic response?" I asked him. "Because the elements were delivered to me in my seat! I didn't have to go up and get them!" he replied. :)

Ever since that Sunday, and for every Communion Sunday since (practised every seven weeks), I deliberate on how we will engage in the Lord's Table that Sunday. How does it fit into the theme for the day? Which of the many messages out of Communion should be highlighted this time? (Forgiveness of Sins, Salvation by Grace, Resurrection to New Life, to name but a few) How should Communion feel - solemn or celebratory? And finally what method of distribution best suits the theme, message and feel?

The method of distribution is for the most part one of two options. At the risk of being risque, we affectionately call the two options, Sit'n Sip, or, Rip'n Dip. In addition, sometimes we have the people gather around in small groups and participate group by group encouraging the groups to be mixed with friends and strangers; other times it is in single file that the participants in Communion come up to receive the elements. And always, there is story, scripture, and songs that accompany the eating and the drinking at the Lord's Table.

In the same way that Jesus comes to us with varied but consistent messages, so does the Lord's Supper come to us here at Maranatha. This we do, in remebrance of Him.

[quote=dmelenberg]At the risk of being risque, we affectionately call the two options, Sit'n Sip, or, Rip'n Dip.[/quote]

I did not expect, upon reading a thread on this topic to laugh out loud - and then I read this. :)

At our church, I would best describe the feel of Lord's Supper as a "family meal" of sorts. It is always connected to God's grace and forgiveness; celebratory in the sense of our receiving that grace; and something we do in community together.

We (generally) have Lord's Supper on the first Sunday of each month, and also weekly during the season of Lent.

Sometimes the elders offer the Supper at the front of the church, and we simply go forward to receive them, then file back to our seats. Other times, we gather in large circles at the front as we share the meal together. In circles, the bread is passed from one person to the next, and an Elder shares the cup in which we dip our bread. (It takes usually about 3 large circles for everyone to participate.)

No doubt it's this circled gathering that contributes, for me at least, to the "family" feel of this. I look across the circle and enjoy sharing in this tangible experience that is a reminder of what brings us all together.

Also, even prior to the recent change that allowed children to partake of the supper, our children have been included in that the pastor or elder who serves will lay a hand on a child's head or shoulder and say, "Jesus loves you."

 In our church we are typically served in our seats and occasionally go up front to recieve it.  I think when we try to find different ways of doing communion people are concentrating more on the procedure rather than the celebration.

Kevin, great topic!  Some of us are creatures of habit and defend our repetitions as faithfulness.  Others of us are not less creatures of habit who are habitually changing things up out of a constant need for something new.  There's room for both faithful tradition and thoughtful creativity in planning Lord's Supper services.  The key is not to keep tradition for tradition's sake, nor to institute change for novelty's sake.  There are good theological reasons that should undergird our decisions about our practices in worship--especially in the Lord's Supper.

Several years ago, Reformed Worship Journal asked me to write an article about incorporating variety in our Lord's Supper services. Hopefully, some of these ideas are still appropriate for readers who are asking the same questions.  You can find it here:  http://www.reformedworship.org/article/june-2008/finding-your-focus

Joy, thanks for your post, and thanks for the good article on Communion. It is very thorough and thought provoking, especially on the five senses. Thanks!

© 2014 Christian Reformed Church in North America. All rights reserved.
For website questions or corrections, use the feedback tab at right or contact us.