Communion Service - How Communion is Performed
In Christian churches, the practice of Communion is common. During Communion, Christians in good standing are invited to the front of the church to partake in an offering of bread and wine in remembrance of the Last Supper. Communion is known by several names, including Holy Communion, the Eucharist or the Lord's Supper. Communion is considered a rite in Christianity and is observed in several different faiths, though there may be slight differences in the way the offering is prepared and presented.
Bread and Wine
There are two elements that are essential to Communion: bread and wine. While these are the traditional elements, many modern churches have converted to using special flour wafers and grape juice. These substitutes allow a larger portion of the church members to participate, including young children. Wafers are also more cost-effective and easier to store than bread. Because the elements are blessed, they all maintain the same spiritual properties regardless of what is used.
During Communion, the bread is meant to represent the body of Christ while the wine is meant to represent His blood. Whether or not that meaning is to be taken literally depends on the branch of Christianity that an individual belongs to. Only Catholics truly believe that the wafers and water are transformed into the blood and body of Christ during the communion service.
The tradition of Communion has deep Biblical roots. During the Last Supper, it is written that Jesus shared a final meal with His disciples before He was betrayed. During this meal, He instructed His faithful followers that the bread they were breaking was His body and the wine was His blood. They shared the final meal together in good spirits before parting ways. During the Last Supper, Jesus knew that he had been betrayed by one of the people He was breaking bread with. Later that evening, He was captured and sent to His crucifixion.
During the Last Supper, Jesus instructs his follows to remember him when they break bread and sip wine. He lays out the foundations for Communion, an act that is meant to both inspire remembrance and to bring the sacrifice of Christ into the present.
While all that is truly needed for Communion is a faithful Christian, a bit of bread and a sip of wine, most churches make more of a production out of the rite. Communion sets are typically used during a Communion service and contain everything needed to handle and store the elements during the presentation of the host and sacramental wine.
Communion sets vary in style and size. The size, style and ornamentation of the set will typically match the style of the church that it is to be used in. More ornate sets are common in larger churches while smaller, less ornate sets are favored by smaller churches and more modern entities. There are even travel communion sets, which are used when taking Communion to sick or infirm individuals.
During the Communion service, some type of bread or wafer is served along with grape juice or wine. These communion elements are eaten in remembrance of the sacrifice Jesus made for mankind when He died for our sins. Churches celebrate Communion in a way that is similar to the Last Supper, where Jesus and His disciples shared one final meal before He was crucified.
The way that churches perform Communion service varies slightly, though the general theme of the service always remains the same. The bread or wafers are presented to the faithful as a representation of Christ's Body. When the wafer is presented, the priest usually says the words, "This is the Body of Christ, broken for you." Then wine or grape juice is given to represent the Blood of Christ. The priest says, "This is the Blood of Christ, shed for you." In some churches the wine or grape juice is presented in small, single-serving disposable cups. In other churches, a chalice of wine is presented for those receiving Communion to dip their wafers into before consuming them.
Churches often have regulations regarding who may receive Communion. Some churches practice what is known as an open Communion while others practice a closed Communion. In an open Communion, anyone that has been baptized is welcome to receive Communion. In closed Communion, only those that are in good standing with their particular church may receive Communion. In the Catholic faith, if an individual is aware of having committed a sin, they must go to confession prior to receiving Communion. The model for giving Communion can be found in the Bible in Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-24 and Luke 22:17-19.
Regardless of how or where you celebrate Communion, the act is mean to help draw the individual closer to Christ. Communion is considered a rite and one of the most cherished traditions of Christianity. While the way that Communion is performed may vary slightly from one church to another, the intent is always the same.
For those that are looking for new communion sets or for those that wish to expand their existing sets, visit Matthew F. Sheehan. We carry everything you need to successfully offer Communion to your congregation, including a large selection of communion sets and individual items. Matthew F. Sheehan has been serving the religious community since 1907 and is proud to offer the religious community over 100 years of experience and expertise.