A Note from Pastor Kristen
on how you can prepare
to share The Lord’s Supper online
During this season of COVID-19, PYUMC is finding creative ways to worship, remain connected, and serve our neighbors despite the limitations of social distancing. One of the ways we are connecting is by worshiping together online. The Lord’s Supper has always been a vital and life-giving part of Christian worship. It is meant to be a community activity, celebrated and shared in the church gathered together. However, gathering looks different in this season, so our leaders in the UMC have given us space to find creative solutions to include as many people as possible at the Table for this holy meal.
A Guide to Sharing Holy Communion
As United Methodists, we believe that all are welcome at God’s Table, including children.
Our communion liturgy begins with words spoken on Jesus’ behalf inviting “all who love him, who earnestly repent of their sin, and seek to live in peace with one another.” We do not need to wait until we have cleaned up our lives to come to the Table; we simply come with a genuine willingness to turn away from our sins and allow God’s cleansing power to change us.
What type of elements are acceptable?
If at all possible, use bread and grape juice. The type of bread doesn’t matter (i.e. sandwich bread, wheat bread, buns, pita, flatbread, etc.). A cracker would be an acceptable substitute. United Methodists have a long tradition of using grape juice instead of wine as a way of being in solidarity with those who should avoid drinking alcohol (did you know Dr. Welch, of Welch’s Grape Juice, was a Methodist who developed it for Communion?). But wine is acceptable to use at home as long as you can partake without a problem.
Are there items we shouldn’t use?
Yes. Please don’t use items that distract from the sacred nature of this meal. Avoid using “fun food” like goldfish crackers, pizza, and grape soda, because the bread and wine used by Jesus were the basic foods that sustained them. We want the Communion elements to lead us into a holy moment, so it helps to have simple bread and juice.
How should we set up Holy Communion?
Before worship starts, prepare a place to set your bread and juice where you can see it during worship – maybe a small table, or a special place on your dining room table. Make it look special by using a cloth napkin, table cloth, etc. Light a candle. Use a plate and cup that feel special. Make it a place where you are ready to meet the living God. If you have children in your home, include them in setting things up.
How do we receive the elements?
Once I have led you through the liturgy, you will be invited to share the elements at the same time as the people worshiping in the church building.
As you break off pieces of bread, say aloud, “The body of Christ, given for you.” If you are worshiping with others in your household, you can say those words as you serve each other the bread. As you dip the bread into the cup, say aloud, “The blood of Christ, given for you.”
During these intervening moments, take time to pray for one another, for friends and family, and concerns and situations around the world. Think about those whom you ordinarily worship with and lift them up in prayer. In short, transform this time as you receive Holy Communion and the brief moments afterwards into an opportunity for communing with God in prayer.
What if I don’t have those elements available or don’t want to participate?
If you don’t have the necessary items available or if you do not want to participate, use this time for prayer.
What do we do with leftovers?
Since these are consecrated elements, we take care of the leftovers in a sacred fashion. They can be “reverently consumed” after the service (eaten with a thankful heart, remembering what they mean), or, since the elements came from the ground (wheat, grapes, etc.) they can go back into the ground. You can break the bread into small pieces and scatter them outside and pour the juice onto the ground, thanking God for providing them.
If you’d like to read further about our United Methodist understanding on Holy Communion, visit www.umc.org/en/content/ask-the-umc-what-do-i-need-to-know- about-holy-communion-in-the-united-methodist-church.
Penn Yan United Methodist Church
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