Category Archives: Holy Communion

Receiving Communion in individual cups: round two | Psephizo

Sometimes the Church of England can be plain silly, as they are over the banning of individual cups for wine during Communion.

Many free churches use them and I’ve taken communion using them and a bolt from heaven never killed me.

I cannot see any reasonable argument against their use, but maybe that is asking too much

The sooner bishops saw sense and allows it the better.

Source: Receiving Communion in individual cups: round two | Psephizo

Electronic Communion by Extension at Easter

Passover and Holy Communion (2) – In My Words…

 

This Easter will be oddest since the first Easter in AD30. Christians will not be taking communion together, whether in a church building or a house. This will be the case in Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, and perhaps elsewhere.

And all due to something so tiny, which we cannot see and may or may not be living, although like bacteria they’ve been around for four billion years.

Thus most of us Christians will not be receiving communion on Easter Day, whether Anglican, Roman Catholic or any other denomination. In fact, we won’t even be worshipping together. For the Christian this will be a great loss, but could we actually receive communion in our own homes.

I note that many clergy have built an altar in their own homes and have live-streamed communion services with only the priest receiving the bread and wine. Many have done this, even if their skills on live-streaming, or whatever system they use, are not the highest. For that they deserve much respect as they are trying to bring the presence of Christ when there is a virtual lockdown. (If you see a priest not doing it very well remember Oscar Wilde’s adage ‘if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly’.) Being retired I am not in that position.

It is clear that clergy from the Archbishops downwards will be doing this and it seems the best solution at a very difficult time. There is no way we can have public worship and there have been several cases where people have caught coronavirus at worship and died. It would be a murderous folly to have public worship. The vital thing is for all to experiment and try to reach people with the good news of the resurrection through the internet without actually people coming together physically.

BUT MOST CHRISTIANS WILL NOT RECEIVE COMMUNION THIS EASTER.

What they will have is to able to watch a priest or bishop celebrate, take the bread and wine and partake “spiritually”, but not touch, handle and eat those creatures of bread and wine.

IS THIS RIGHT?

Is it the best solution at a difficult time?

Worship together is not possible and liable to be fatal.

The same with communion together.

BUT IS THE SOLUTION FOR ALL CHRISTIANS TO RECEIVE THE BREAD AND THE WINE SO DIFFICULT?

Instead of watching the priest celebrate and take the bread and wine and have a “spiritual Communion”, why shouldn’t the worshipper at home watch the clebration of communion with a small piece of bread and a tiny amount of wine and then consume both after the priest has consumed his?

I have now booked my place at the stake and I can hear many say;

YOU CAN’T DO THAT!

To which I respond;

WHY NOT?

After all we have communion by extension with the bread and wine consecrated on a previous occasion.

Further we are used to spiritual blessing being televised whether by the Pope, our Archbishops and in so many religious services or songs of Praise on TV.

If a blessing can “work” over the air waves/livestreaming/TV or whatever else, why cannot the bread and wine in a persons front room be consecrated?

Why is it necessary for the priest to “touch” the bread and wine? Non-conformists and evangelicals often do not. Does that make their communions invalid?

Does our understanding of consecration of the bread and wine preclude it, whether we look to RC teaching, Tridentine or Vatican II, views of Luther, Calvin and Zwingli, and in an Anglican context, all those from the time of Thomas Cranmer down to the present day.

Does it affect how we consider the consecrated bread and wine? Whether Transubstantiation, Transignification, Consubstantiation, Real Presence or totally symbolic?

Why can’t consecration be effective over the electronic cloud? Is God himself limited by having to keep to First Century technology?

To illustrate this I am reminded of an amusing incident. Thirty years ago a woman deacon had a parish in rural Wales & had to drive 20 miles to get the bread/wine consecrated for communion by extension. Once they considered the faff and absurdity of it all and the priest said to her, “why not hold the wafers & wine by the phone & I’ll do it over the phone?” Why not, I ask? I always chuckle about that when I drive along that road.

I have asked a lot of questions on the theme of WHY NOT? Some responses I’ve had on twitter are simply NO. It seems I’ve touched a raw nerve.

But what better for Easter Day?

On TV in the mid-morning the Archbishop of Canterbury leads a typical Anglican Communion service in his chapel at Lambeth Palace. Beforehand viewers are told that if they wish to receive communion they should have with them a little bread and wine and receive them when the Archbishop says

The Body of Christ

The Blood of Christ.

Holy Communion - First Congregational Church in Bristol, Rhode Island

And several million take the bread and wine together.

(They could still be livestreamed communions from bishops and priests from their own homes.)

I would suggest that it would be very moving and a very strong Christian witness, as well as giving fantastic spiritual nourishment to Christians prevented from worship and those who have found this time very difficult. Would it really matter if not all were baptised and confirmed. I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t mind.

I cannot see any theological objection to this and would a fantastic opportunity of spiritually feeding so many people.

What could be better than that?

Obviously there would need to be some serious theological thinking AFTER Easter, but more important is feeding the flock THIS Easter.

Finally, I suppose there is a risk, but the church (and all aspects of society) move forward when they take a risk, when they think the gains outweigh the dangers.

Climbing this mountain was a risk, but a calculated one.

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I ought to say that is not me as when I went along that ledge I was totally on my own and a selfie was a risk too far

Holy Communion with the Devil at Cirencester

Yup, that’s it! When you go to Cirencester Parish Church you take communion with the Devil.

Cirencester is the capitol of the Cotswolds and an ancient market town going back to Roman times. We often stop there returning from the tumuli around Stonehenge. The centre of the town is the massive parish church dedicated to John the Baptist, which is apt considering the funding of the tower.

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A vast medieval  church like indicates one thing; WOOL. The wealth of England in the middle Ages was built on wool whether in the Cotswolds or the Yorkshire Dales. Many wool merchants became the equivalent of billionaires, but the downside was that the sheep munched all the wild flowers.

The chancel is the oldest part of the church. Construction started around 1115. It was widened in about 1180. The east window dates from around 1300. The original stained glass of the east window has long since disappeared and it is now filled with fifteenth century glass from other parts of the church in a patchwork quilt of glass with the Devil taking centrestage.

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To the north of the chancel is St. Catherine’s Chapel which dates from around 1150. It contains a wall painting of St. Christopher carrying the Christ Child, and vaulting given by Abbot John Hakebourne in 1508.

The nave was completely rebuilt between 1515 and 1530 and is a remarkable example of late perpendicular gothic architecture.

The tower is fifteenth century and remarkable for the large buttresses which shore it up at its junction with the nave. It was built with blood money as Henry IV gave money for it to say thanks for the heads of Richard II’s half brothers, which were sent to Henry on a platter  (or should have been, noting its dedication), after being beheaded in the market place outside the church.  And so construction began soon after the 1399/1400  “rebellion”, which was part of the Wars of the Roses.

The great south porch which adjoins the market place was built around 1500 at the expense of Alice Avening.

Oddly the nave was built last of all and so making one building connecting tower and nave, which is the highest of any English church, but not cathedral. (The downside today are the horrendous heating bills.)

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The vista is vast and I cannot think of a more massive parish church.

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The view down the aisle from the tower is impressive with a verger and churchwarden in the foreground. And thanks to the warden for giving me a guided tour.

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Walking down the aisle you see the rood screen with the altar, reredos and east window beyond.

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Now let’s say you are at a communion service and have come down the aisle to receive communion , the body and blood of Christ. Once through the rood screen, you see the the alter, which is rather large and not the plain wooden table of the Reformation.

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If you are from Garstang like us and irreligiously looking at the crazy east window you will see the arms of wool merchant Mr Garstang who’d moved south from Garstang to make his fortune. But your mind should be on higher things.

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A few steps more and you have a closer view of the alter and very ornate Victorian reredos, surprisingly not in wood.

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Then before you kneel at the altar rail, there is a devilish face looking at you from the east window. Yes, it is the devil seeking those who he/it can lead astray.

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Yes, it looks almost mischievous, but we know that sin, or whatever it is that makes us do wrong, humorously leads us in the wrong direction.

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At this point it is best to kneel and immediately the Devil has gone. As we receive the fortifying bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ , the devil is overcome as the early church thought. This is best seen as Jesus though the cross defeating evil and forgiving us and then through his rising again opening the way to a new life.

As Paul wrote to the wayward church in Corinth

The Institution of the Lord’s Supper

23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for[g] you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

and in Paul’s letter to the Colossians

 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

21 And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled[j] in his fleshly body[k] through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— 23 provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.

I hope all who worship at Cirencester find this a great aid to their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

For me it made a very serious point on the human condition and its solution in a rather jokey way.

Perhaps we need more jesters explaining the gospel of Christ and fewer showmen and pretend academics.