by Robert Brow ( Kingston, Ontario December 2007


Jesus’ instructions were very simple. In three of the Gospels Jesus gave us the example. While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take, eat this is my body." Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:26-28).

Paul took it for granted that Christians would keep sharing in the bread and wine of communion. He added the words of Jesus "Do this in remembrance of me," and commented "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

There are some congregations in Scotland who celebrate the communion service with great solemnity only four times a year. Anglicans, Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and others have a communion service every Sunday morning. But there is a wide range from the extreme simplicity of a service for soldiers in battle, to a high mass with its elaborate musical accompaniment.

Due to the stroke which keeps me from sharing in public worship , last Sunday morning Rev. Marie Warner gave me communion at home. She took the service slowly with time for reflection, and I enjoyed it like a very rich feast.

What are the essential ingredients of the Christian communion service ritual ?  One or more readings to remind us of the life and death of Jesus on the cross. There is a confession and absolution to assure us of total forgiveness and acceptance. The bread can be ordinary bread or a wafer. If the cup is to be shared, the wine should be at least 16% alcohol to avoid the passing of infection. For special occasions there will be singing and a focus on what is being celebrated.

However the service is conducted, Christians have their faith strengthened and the church throughout the world is built up. There should be no room for denominational posturing or the exclusion of those we might consider unworthy.

Robert Brow

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