“We thank you … for assuring us in these holy mysteries that we are living members of the Body of your Son, and heirs of your eternal kingdom” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 366)
It goes by several names: Holy Communion, the Eucharist (which literally means “thanksgiving”), mass. But whatever it’s called, this is the family meal for Christians and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. As such, all persons who have been baptized, and are therefore part of the extended family that is the Church, are welcome to receive the bread and wine, and be in communion with God and each other.
The Holy Eucharist can be found on pp. 316-399 of the Book of Common Prayer.
RECEIVING COMMUNION AT RESURRECTION
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:
+ 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.
+ 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 wafer 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 wafer, 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 wafer in the wine, instead of drinking. 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.
For families with young children we leave the decision to you. One approach is to regard communion as a sharing at the family table, where children are as welcome as any family member to eat and drink. Another perspective is to wait until children can understand the significance of the decision before receiving communion, but to come to the altar for a blessing. The priest and chalice bearer will ask you preference for your child.
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.
If for any reason you are not able to come to the altar rail but would like to receive communion, please indicate this to an usher, and ministers will bring you communion.