Preparing for Lord’s Supper AT HOME:
We hope to celebrate the Lord’s Supper on May 2. Some will be in attendance at West End but more of us will be limited to celebrating it ‘virtually’. We are thankful that in this time when we can’t all be together, that we can still commune this way with God and each other.
As we have noted previous times, the Lord’s Supper has its roots in the Israelite feast of the Passover. Interestingly, this was not a ‘church’ gathering but a fellowship meal that was celebrated once a year in the home. It was a full meal and was led by the head of the household with specific questions asked by one of the children. It became a time of remembering and a celebration focused on what God has done for God’s people.
When Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples, the last meal before his death on the cross, he too celebrated this fellowship meal privately in an upper room. And following Jesus’ resurrection, the early church in celebrating the Lord’s Supper also did so as a meal in a home. So, celebrating in our homes may be unique to our practice, but it has some striking ties to the past.
On May 2 we will be led through the liturgy and participation in a way that will be familiar to most of us. We recognize that not all of us may be comfortable participating in communion virtually from our homes. Please do not feel any obligation to participate if you are not comfortable doing so. Our celebration does not determine our unity, it comes out of it.
But if you do plan to celebrate from home, here are some things to consider as you anticipate and prepare for that.
- You will need to prepare the elements in advance.
- Bread (or crackers if you do not have bread). Traditionally we have cut or broken the bread into small pieces and placed on a plate or in a bowl. Another option, especially if you are not by yourself, is to take a whole loaf or chunk of bread and at the time of celebration break a piece off before handing it to another. (When you do, you can do so with words such as “[name], the body of Christ for you.”)
- Grape juice or wine if you have either. Not all of us will have grape juice or wine available; please then use any juice or water as works best for you. Traditionally we pour a small amount into individual glasses, enough glasses for each person present. Another option, again especially if you are not by yourself, is to use a larger ‘communal’ cup. At the time of celebration, you would drink some before handing the cup to another. (When you do, you can do so with words such as “[name], the blood of Christ for you.”)
- Prepare a place to have all of these set out for easy accessibility during our time of worship. You might do that in a way that keeps it visible during the service in a similar way that it might be in our WE place of worship. This will serve as a reminder and anticipation of what is to come. Consider placing the elements on a cloth as a way to ‘set’ the table; consider having a cloth over the elements to take off at the time of celebration if that would be meaningful for you.
For the actual celebration, we will be invited at the appropriate time to take up the bread and then invited to eat so that similar to what we do in our corporate worship, we will all be participating at the same time. Likewise, the juice/wine.
For those of us with younger children, please note the following which is also what we have in the bulletin as a guide to help parents:
We welcome all those who believe in the Lord Jesus as their Savior and Lord, and who are members of a Bible-believing church, to participate in this celebration with us. This includes baptized children with the guidance of their parent/care giver. Please inform your Pastoral Elder if your child/ren will participate in the Sacrament for the first time. A brochure is available on the website with age- and ability- appropriate guidelines for participation, as well as resources for preparing children for participation.
For those of us who will be here, we are asked to pick up individually packaged elements when we come to the sanctuary to keep with us and then take at the time of Communion.
We lament the circumstances that also mean we can’t all commune physically with each other – it reflects something that is not right in our world and how we are (not) together as church. But even so, we celebrate the gift of grace in Christ which declares that we who belong to him are part of his one body regardless of being separated by distance (or time). I hope that you will be able to focus on that and celebrate what Jesus has done that keeps all our circumstances, and each other, in perspective. And as we do this, may it create in us a longing to be back together, and an even deeper longing to be together as a full body when Christ returns.
Pastor Henry Kranenburg