In the "Current Issues" thread, Kathy Smith asked me to say a few things about serving communion at weddings, for all, or just for bride and groom.
I'm happy to start a conversation and am therefore starting this new thread for this topic.
I'm even more eager to hear from many others what their opinions are.
But perhaps this will be a good place to start.
In the Reformed tradition we have generally reserved the celebration of communion for a worship service called by and supervised by the local consistory (minister and elders), an "official" worship service or, as the Church Order has it in Article 55, a "public worship service." This goes way back to the sixteenth century when ministers refused to come to the palace of the king. The king was told that if he wished to celebrate communion, he would have to come to church and sit with carpenters and farmers and fishermen since that would more clearly reflect that we are all one in Christ, no matter what our life's task, and must visibly show that unity as we worship Him.
So if a wedding is performed in an official worship service, as it rarely is these days, it would be fine to celebrate communion but then not just for bride and groom -- that "excludes" some in the body of Christ -- but for everyone gathered in that worship service.
A private wedding, meaning one that is not an occasion authorized by and supervised by the local consistory, but one where the couple invites family and friends and a clergyman is in charge, is a different matter. Here we do not serve the sacrament because it is a "private occasion," not an official worship service. A whole lot of symbolism is and can be permitted: lighting a unity candle, appropriate music, exchange of rings, etc. but not the Lord's Supper.
It is no different when it comes to other private settings. I know people disagree with me on this point, but I tend to oppose serving communion at a college chapel service or a seminary chapel service or a young people gathering for prayer and mediation at a beach or at a conference grounds, etc. This is because private occasions necessarily limit the participants to a certain class or group of people with the exclusion of others.
The RCA has no problem serving communion at classis and synod meetings. The CRC has refrained from this. That is to say, it gladly has its synod participating in communion celebration (we've even done it with the RCA synod -- all together) but then it arranges for a local congregation to call that service and have its elders sponsor it and supervise it, complete with an invitation to all who belong to that local congregation.
I hope this is sufficient to get a good conversation going. Let's hear from quite a few. For a while, I'll just listen, even if I'm just itching to get in on the conversation. Then maybe, at some point, the itch might become overwhelming, and I'll want to chime in again.......