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The big questions: How do small churches celebrate communion?

This year Journey explores questions from the pews, namely from a (fictitious) person exploring faith and the Uniting Church. This month Nova B Lever asks: How do small churches celebrate communion?

MY SON and I were driving home from a visit up north and stayed overnight in a small town where we went to worship on Sunday morning.

We’re still new to attending church and don’t want to get out of the routine.

We enjoyed a warm welcome from the congregation of 15 people who seemed to enjoy a lively fellowship.

They also welcomed a visiting minister that Sunday.

The worship leader explained how rare it was for them to be able to celebrate Holy Communion.

I hadn’t thought about this, taking for granted the way we celebrate the Eucharist in my congregation.

Until that moment I had never questioned why we break the bread and share the ‘wine’ so rarely or why only the ordained minister recites the form-of-words.

We belong to a sacramental church.

An appendix to the Basis of Union says, “In normal circumstances a minister of the Word will preside at celebrations of the sacrament of Holy Communion.”

There must be a growing number of churches whose “normal circumstances” don’t include an ordained minister.

How do those small worshiping communities obey Jesus’ words to share the sacrament and remember him?

Even in a large, well staffed congregation, “coming to the Lord’s Table” is the high point of worship for me.

It’s the ultimate expression of belonging together and to him, dining with him and sharing in him.

A family at the table; it’s the lifeblood of gathered believers.

So why do Uniting Church members only celebrate the Lord’s Supper at occasional Sunday services with an ordained minister presiding?

Has Holy Communion become the peculiar ceremony we have evolved over the centuries?

If doing whatever “this” was (in remembrance of Jesus) is the preserve of priests and pastors many congregations in many denominations must be facing the same issue we saw in that little country church.

Not breaking bread and sharing the cup leaves a family hungry.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the fruit juice and red cordial!