Would anyone like to share a communion time that was special or unique in the way that it was presented to the congregation? I will share one of ours to get us started.
The last Sunday of each month is a communion service for us. We normally present communion at the end of the service and have everyone come up and partake of the elements then. This past January, we did communion a bit different. Instead of waiting for the end of service we had communion during the worship time. We went through our faster set of songs and then read the scriptures for communion before the slower songs began. The elements were prayed over and the altar was opened for the congregation to come up when they felt led to during the worship time. As we worshiped, the congregation began to come forward and take communion. Some would linger at the altars while others would return to their seats and continue to worship. The congregation responded positively to it and it really enhanced our worship time. It even gave me a chance to go to a couple in the church who had been gone for quite awhile and minister and pray with them. It was truly an awesome service that day.
Ok, that was one example. Now are there any others who would like to share?
I think there are some element of breaking bread together that we are missing. I don't know what it is, but the early church in Acts were committed to the Apostles doctrine, fellowship, breaking bread and prayer. This was a cornerstone of their life together. I don't get the sense that it was some ritual that they went through, it was obviously something that bought life to them. Thanks for the topic, I am keen to hear what others have to say.
I agree Mark, there is an intimacy with the Lord that comes from th reflection of the sacrifice that the elements represent. I think if we approach it as just another monthly, or weekly, ritual we miss out on so much of how precious it really is to us. Communion, I think, is definitely a time of reflection, soul searching, and focussing on the Lord - a time to draw near to His heart.
We have a communion service every Sunday from 10-11am, then a coffee break before the main service at 11.30am.
At the communion service there is no planned 'order of service'. We all gather and remember the death of the Lord Jesus in a meditative way. Anyone can give out a hymn, prayer, Bible reading etc. We have no band or worship leader, only keyboard. Then at about 10.40 or so the bread and wine is handed round.
It is a really focused time of remembrance and we don't think of it as a ritual - it is, in Mark's words, 'a cornerstone of our life together'. It is my favourite service and prepares us for the rest of the busy day - even though it does mean a bit of a rush to get the band set up for 11.30.
In answer to your question then Jerry - for me, every communion service is unique. Each week the service takes a different emphasis. For example someone might begin with asking us to sing 'Only by grace' and that will lead to us focusing on grace for the next 45 minutes. It is a really special time and anyone is able to participate.
Resurrection City, Berkeley, Christmas Eve 1978 or 1979 or thereabouts... they did a "serve everyone in their seats and hold the elements until everyone has been served" service, but the "bread" was like, croutons. So when everyone ate at the same time, you could hear this "crunch" all around the room that really gave a sense of everyone taking communion together.
I'll admit that it seems to me like communion has been made very un-special at our church... the current pastor and the previous one insist on doing communion every Sunday, the same traditional liturgy and the same song playing (which I think I mentioned in another thread, some people like). The pastor seems to feel that because it's communion it is automatically meaningful and moving, and I don't think our congregation (me included) feels that way... I sorta wish we'd go back to once a month so that when we DO have it, it would seem more "special" but the powers that be seem to think otherwise...
Once at a teen summer camp, they had communion, and we came down to the front to receive it. The only difference was that the wine (i.e. grape juice - it was teen camp, after all!) was in paper cups, with about 6 times the normal amount. You couldn't just drink it in one swallow.
The speaker told us that this was on purpose, to help us realize that Jesus didn't die all of a sudden, but that He suffered for a long time on the cross on our behalf. I can tell you, it was a difficult thing to drink down that whole cup. Very meaningful. I did it years later in a congregational setting and people were very moved.
A number of years ago, I was a youth pastor in a small denomination that has about 200 churches in North and South Carolina. I really wanted to do a communion service one night with my students and was told I couldn't use the elements because I wasn't ordained in their denomination. So we sat in a circle and we mimed communion, yup that's right, we mimed it. It was one of the most powerful experiences I've ever had that was communion related.
This reminds me of a time I was at a men's retreat and we had communion. Two guys got up and presented the gift of God's salvation through mime which ended with us all taking communion. The whole thing was done to the song 'Mary Did You Know' with some incidental music added in. The two men had a present on the table and they opened it up and took out one by one the different items in the box. There were three nails, a crown of thorns, a cross, a loaf of bread, a clear glass goblet and a Bible. As they opened the Bible and read you could see that everything was going towards the crucifixion. They placed the bread on the cross, put the nails in the places where they would be on Jesus and layed the crown of thorns at the top of the cross. Once all this was done, they opened the bottom of the cross and the grape juice poured out into a clear goblet. Then we were invited to come up and tear a piece of bread from the loaf and dip it into the cup and eat it. It was a very powerful demonstration that really hit home and there was not one dry eye in the room. Very humbling.
We serve communion the first Sunday of every month. We use regular matzoh bread, and I always have a whole piece to use to show the congregation the body of Christ. It is bruised, for he was bruised for our iniquities. It has stripes, because by his stripes we are healed. It is pierced because he was pierced. And it is made without leaven which is a type of sin, and there was no sin in Jesus. I do the same with the cup, speaking of the cup of the new covenant written in his blood shed for the forgiveness of sins. I rehearse those words every time we have communion so we understand what he was instilling in his disciples at that passover meal, that he was the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and to never forget the sacrifice he made for us by allowing his body to be broken for us and his blood to be shed for us. We also allow the children to partake with us so they can learn at an early age what Jesus did for them.
Never thought of using the matzoh bread before. I will have to share this with my pastor, he would love it. We also allow the children to partake in communion with us. I think it is important that families celebrate together what Christ did for us on the cross.
I once shared communion with some believers in a communist country who were suffering persecution. We sat in a circle, and one person would break off a piece of bread and eat it, then pass it to the next person while saying, "This is my body broken for you." The same with the cup of wine.
It hit me so powerfully, that these brothers and sisters were not just celebrating Christ's death and resurrection, but they were also saying to each other, "I'll give my life for you." You could really feel the love they had for each other.