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Holy Communion


Holy Communion (con't.)

The Basic Pattern of Worship: A Service of Word and Table

The complete patter of Christian worship for the Lordís Day is Word and Table Ė the gospel is proclaimed in both Word and sacrament.  Word and Table are not in competition; rather they complement each other so as to constitute a whole service of worship.  Their separation diminishes the fullness of life in the Spirit offered to us through faith in Jesus Christ.  Congregations of The United Methodist Church are encouraged to move toward a richer sacramental life, including weekly celebration of the Lordís Supper at the services on the Lordís Day, as advocated by the general orders of Sunday worship in The United Methodist Hymnal and The United Methodist Book of Worship.

The Gathered Community

The whole assembly actively celebrates Holy Communion.  All who are baptized into the body of Christ Jesus become servants and ministers within that body, which is the Church.  The one Body, drawn together by the one Spirit, is fully realized when all its many parts eat together in love and offer their lives in service at the Table of the Lord.

All in the congregation are participants in the ministry of offering praise and worship to God and in the servant work of mutual ministry.  The terms presiding minister and assisting minister describe the work of those who lead and assist the congregation.

The Prayer of Great Thanksgiving

The prayer of Great Thanksgiving is addressed to God, is prayed by the whole people, and is led by the presiding minister.  Our Trinitarian understanding of the nature of God shapes the prayer.  It includes an introductory dialogue, thankful remembrance of Godís mighty acts of creation and the salvation made possible through Jesus Christ, the institution of the Lordís Supper, invoking of the present work of the Holy Spirit, and concluding praise to the Trinity.  The prayer recognizes the fullness of Godís triune nature, expresses the offering of ourselves in response, and looks toward the joy of sharing in Godís eventual victory over sin and death.

The prayer of Great Thanksgiving includes the voices of both the presiding minister and the people.  The congregationís responses, which may be spoken or sung, include adoration, acclamation, and affirmation.  Congregational responses of ďAmenĒ are the affirmation by the people of what has been prayed.

The Community Extends Itself

The Communion elements are consecrated and consumed in the context of the gathered congregation.  The Table may be extended, in a timely manner, to include those unable to attend because of age, illness, or similar conditions.  Laypeople may distribute the consecrated elements in the congregation and extend them to members who are unavoidably absent (BOD; ∂∂ 331.1.b and 1115.9).

When Holy Communion is extended to those unable to attend, the liturgy should include the reading of the Scripture Lesson(s), the Invitation, Confession and Pardon, the Peace, the Lordís Prayer, distribution, and post-Communion prayer.  A prayer of Great Thanksgiving should not be repeated, since this service is an extension of the Communion service held earlier (BOW; page 51).

If Holy Communion is to be celebrated with people who are homebound on a day when the congregation has not gathered at Table, ďA Service of Word and Table VĒ (BOW; pages 51-53), which includes the Great Thanksgiving, should be used by an ordained elder or another who is authorized to preside.

The Lordís Supper is to be made available to people who are in hospitals and hospices; nursing, convalescent, and rehabilitation facilities; correctional and custodial institutions; or other situations that make it impossible for them to gather with the community of faith.  If a person is unable to eat or drink, one or both of the elements may be touched to his or her lips.

Both ďself-serviceĒ Communion, where people help themselves, and ďdrop-inĒ Communion, where the elements are available over a period of time, are contrary to the communal nature of the sacrament, which is the celebration of the gathered community of faith.  

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