St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
Saturday, December 20, 2014
There's a place for you here.
The Sacrament of Holy Communion (also known as The Lord’s Supper or Eucharist) has been precious and life-giving to Christians for 2,000 years. It is so important to us that we are eager to share it with you. And since practices vary from one church to another, we hope the following guidelines will help you feel more at home. But please remember that there is no “right” way to receive. The only thing that matters is that God welcomes you and wants to feed and care for you. God is always with you, and Communion can be a way in which we are awakened more completely to this amazing reality. With that in mind, here’s how you will see most people receiving Communion at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church:
+ First, we encourage you to collect yourself and pray for an open heart, anticipating that God will use this sacrament to feed or care for you in ways that you need.
+ At the appropriate time, people in your pew will come forward to the main altar or to one of the side chapel altars. Where you receive is entirely up to you.
+ Once you have arrived at an altar, you may kneel or stand to receive. Hold out your hands, with one hand supporting the other.
+ The sacramental bread will be placed in your hands with words such as “The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven.” The usual response is, “Amen.”
+ Having received the bread, you may consume it immediately.
+ The cup of wine will then be presented to you, and you may guide the cup to your lips by gripping its base. Again, the usual response upon receiving the wine is to say, “Amen.”
+ Some people might choose to dip the bread in the wine, instead of drinking. If you should choose to do that, then you would wait for the smaller cup of wine which is used solely for that purpose. You will want to be careful in this case not to let your fingers touch the wine; simply touch the tip of the bread to the surface of the wine.
+ After you have received, it is customary to leave the altar rail and return to your seat after the person next to you has received.
If for any reason you choose not to receive Communion, you are still welcome to come forward to receive a blessing. In that case, you would cross your arms over your chest when you arrive at the altar rail, signifying that you are there to receive a blessing only.
If you think you might be coming down with a cold but still wish to receive Communion, we ask that you receive the bread only, avoiding the risk of spreading disease by way of drinking from the common cup or by way of your fingers when dipping bread into wine. Receiving Communion in the bread only is an ancient practice that continues to be a most acceptable option and even an important one when you might be sick. Our clergy and lay ministers are very careful about washing their hands thoroughly before administering Communion, and we encourage all who are receiving to do the same.
Of course, if you are ill, please remember that it could be important for you to stay home – clergy and Lay Eucharistic Visitors routinely take Communion to people who are unable to attend church. Just call the church office (288-2867) and let us know when you would like this.