Wednesday, 21 May 2014

On taking communion

One of my youth group asked recently why some churches insist that only members take communion, whilst others offer communion to everyone, regardless of membership or otherwise.  I gave her a brief answer at the time, however I think this is something worth unpacking in a bit more detail.

From what I understand, the practise of only giving communion to those confirmed as a member of a given church or denomination comes from Paul's advice to the Corinthians:

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgement on themselves. 1 Corinthians Ch 11 v 27-29.

The thinking seems to be that those who have been confirmed understand what communion is about, why we take it etc, and so are not taking communion "in an unworthy manner".

From what I read on their website, the Catholic church goes further, and has a list of conditions that must be met in order to receive.

Let's take a look again at verses 28 & 29:
28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgement on themselves. (emphasis mine).

Paul appears to be saying that it is up to the individual to determine for themselves whether or not they are in an appropriate state to receive communion - it's an individual decision, not a corporate one.

Also, Paul is saying that people who take communion "in an unworthy manner" bring judgement on themselves - nowhere does it mention that the church or group giving communion will come under judgement.

Of course, there should be appropriate teaching and advice available in order that we all know what taking communion involves, and what it means.

For myself, I'd like to feel that I could go into any church, anywhere, and share in the one bread.

2 comments:

  1. That has cleared it up - thanks Gary, reading the bit on the Catholic church their rules seem a little excessive

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