Communion is one of the two sacraments recognized by the United Church of Christ, the other being Baptism. A sacrament can be defined as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.” It is an ancient rite that has been practiced among Christians from the Last Supper with Jesus himself. In it, Christians reaffirm their belief in Christ as Savior and Lord.
Whether done formally or informally, the service of Communion can be a deeply moving time for the people of the church to remember the love God in the incarnation of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross. It is a time to be in loving communion with God and one another through Jesus Christ.
Who May Participate
Communion at our church is open to all people who confess their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
As for children and young people, we encourage all young people who have participated in Confirmation to participate in Communion. We leave the decision of whether a young child should participate up to the parents. Since parents are important communicators of life and faith, we ask that parents ensure that the young person has received education in the meaning and history of Communion. Our Church School shares in this important responsibility by including this education throughout the regular curriculum, with special emphasis in the first and second grades for children and their parents.
Communion at Our Church
The Communion Service can take many forms depending upon the setting of the service.
At our principal Sunday morning service, Communion is usually celebrated on the first Sunday of the month, with members of the Diaconate assisting the pastors in serving this sacrament. After the words of the “invitation” and the “Prayer of Consecration” are said by the pastor, first the bread and then the cup are passed by the deacons to the congregation, who remain seated. The partaking of the bread and cup is done in the following manner, as described each time in the order of worship:
In the tradition of our church, partake of the bread as it is served, remembering our individual uniqueness in the eyes of God and our diversity within the Body of Christ. Hold the cup until all are served, remembering our oneness with God and our unity in the Body of Christ.
The celebration of Communion concludes with the reading in unison of a “Prayer of Thanksgiving.”
In smaller or less formal services, another method of serving Communion, such as “intincture,” may be used. In the intincture method, the bread is held until it is dipped in a common cup and then eaten individually at will. In some services the bread and common cup are passed among those celebrating Communion, while in other settings those gathered come forward to the bread and cup.
Today, the celebration of Communion at our church goes beyond the walls of the meetinghouse and chapel. The bread and cup is still taken while seated in a pew on Sunday morning or in a circle at a smaller service. We may also share the experience standing on the sand during beach services at Greenwich Point, or sitting on the floor in retreat at Silver Lake Conference Center. Many times the clergy take the celebration of Communion to members of the congregation who are unable to attend services, either in their homes or in a hospital or nursing home.
For more information about Communion at our church, please contact the church office at (203) 637-1791.