Is Communion Safe?

April 11, 2017

>This Sunday I’ll be offering communion at Fall Creek for the first time. We will receive the elements in a way that may be new to some. Here’s how intinction works.

Row by row, people come forward to servers who stand at the head of each aisle, one holding a loaf of bread, the other a cup of wine (or grape juice, in our case). The server holding the bread breaks off a piece and hands it to each person, one by one. Each person then dips the bread into the cup, eats it, and returns to be seated.

On hearing about this for the first time, some folk wonder whether they’ll catch other people’s germs from the bread or cup. 

While I understand the concern, there really is no risk of disease. In fact, this may be the safest method of all. Normally, everybody fumbles around trying to pick up those little freeze-dried crumbs, and a few people sneeze on the tray while they’re passing it along.  This way only one person (the server) touches the bread, and that person will have just washed his or her hands. (I’m actually going to give each of them a tube of hand sanitizer before church.)
I like intinction for several reasons.
First, it’s more earthy, more sensory. Touching the bread and tasting the juice have more tactile appeal than using those dry wafers and tiny cups. 
Also, the act standing and coming forward to receive the elements can be powerful. It seems to re-create our decision to follow Christ and receive his grace. 
Finally, I love the way it symbolizes both our individual relationship with God (we receive the elements individually) and our unity as a body (we’re all doing it together). 
This is a very powerful way to receive communion.

But here’s my question: Given the fact that when we receive the Lord’s Supper, we place ourselves in a position to be alone with God, filled by his Spirit, and transformed by his grace … can it ever be considered safe?

What do you think happens when you receive communion?

Lawrence W. Wilson

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I blog about Christian faith and ministry. I've also written a few books including The Long Road Home and Why Me? Straight Talk about Suffering.