Did you know that this Sunday, October 4, 2009 is World Communion Day? My husband did. In fact, he just reminded me of it. World Communion Day is celebrated annually on the first Sunday in October by the serving of communion in many Christian mainstream churches worldwide.
Communion is a Christian tradition involving grape juice or wine and unleavened bread as the earthly representation of our Lord Jesus Christ. The juice or wine may be served in individual cups or from a single cup (also known as a Common cup). The bread may either be a loaf from which small pieces are torn to give to the congregants or it may be individual wafers which are then given to each congregant. The pastor blesses each person who chooses to participate.
Christians believe that the communion meal is a re-enactment of the famous Last Supper. The Last Supper is a name that was given to the simple meal of bread and wine that was shared by Jesus and the 12 Apostles who originally chose to follow Jesus.
There are variations in the way that communion is served within the church. Generally, there are 3 different methods that are used within the United Methodist Church. I will stick with sharing my knowledge from this denomination since I can talk more accurately do so. For those who do not know I am the wife of a United Methodist Pastor and a graduate of a United Methodist Local Pastor’s Licensing School in 2006.
One of the most common ways to serve communion is to do so via Intinction. The pastor stands in the front of the church and congregants line up to receive communion. Wafers or bread pieces are passed to the congregants by the pastor. The congregants then in turn dip their bread or wafer into the Common communion cup, receive their blessing from the pastor and return to their seats. Some may pause at the altar for a moment of prayer.
Another way to serve communion is to use individual cups of juice or wine and wafers. The communion cups are tiny and hold only a small swallow of liquid. Typically the wafer is handed out first, then the juice. After the pastor gives the blessing the congregant returns to his or her seat.
The last way is the least popular method. It involves being given a wafer or small piece of bread from a pastor and taking a sip from a Common cup one person after the other. My years of service to the denomination have taken me to many different states. During the length of time I have only ever seen one occasion where everyone drank communion from a common cup. Each time someone took a sip from the cup the pastor wiped the edge with a towel.
This was for a special service with only a handful of people. Thankfully, I went first. I’m not sure I would have if I was the #2 person in line.
World Communion Day is the one Sunday a year that Christians worldwide have communion. It is served according to each pastor according to his or her own traditions and customs within the church that is being served.
In many churches and different denominations the important of World Communion Sunday cannot be overemphasized. It is a day that we recognize who we are in Christ as one body of believers. Differences are set aside and we all do one act that says “We Are Christian”.
World Communion Sunday helps us each to remember that we are beloved children of God, no matter what the denomination is that we choose to belong to. It’s an important day and one to be cherished within the traditions of the Christian Church.
Discussion with Rev. John Crabtree
Click here for more articles by this author. Follow Gayle Crabtree on Twitter by clicking here.