How to prepare for Holy Communion
to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion is not difficult, but some
forethought will enhance the experience. When Holy Communion is
administered in a church someone is designated to take care of these
things. Such people are often called Communion Stewards or are
members of an Altar Guild. You will need to be your own Communion
Steward and your own Altar Guild. All of this is relatively easy,
but a little preparation goes a long way.
Your Worship Space. You should try to arrange yourself in
front of your computer in a comfortable way. There should be
sufficient space on your keyboard shelf or on a side table to place
the elements (the bread and wine). The presence of a cross,
even a small one, where it is visible may add to your worship
experience. A quiet place, without television, radio, or MP3
player sounds, or other noisy distractions is ideal, although this
may not always be possible. The use of earphones plugged into
your computer may help overcome uncontrollable ambient noise.
The "elements" consist of the bread and wine (or
grape juice) used in the service of Holy Communion.
- The bread.
will need a small piece of bread.
Traditionally the bread is "unleavened" (a brittle
flat bread made without yeast and eaten at Passover
[syn: matzo]) because the last supper eaten by Jesus
and his disciples was a Jewish Passover meal.
In the 21st Century in the United Methodist Church,
any kind of bread you may have available may be
used. The bread you place before you should be large enough to
symbolically break it when you are asked to do so. The bread
and wine should be placed in a convenient location before you during
the Communion service.
- The wine.
fermented grape juice (wine) or unfermented grape
juice may be used. A simple, unfortified red
wine, often cut with water, is the traditional
sacramental wine of the Christian Church.
Methodists in the United States commissioned the
development of an unfermented grape juice in the
1890s to be consistent with the strong temperance
movement of the times. Certainly if you have
physical, mental, or moral issues with the use of
alcohol, use grape juice. Under some circumstances neither wine
nor grape juice may be available to you. Under such conditions
some other common beverage, such as water, may be used solely as a
symbol of the wine. Wine
or grape juice are preferred because they follow more closely the
biblical stories of the institution of Holy Communion by Jesus.
The wine (or grape juice) may be poured from a decanter (or bottle)
into a small glass or goblet (chalice) when you are asked to do so.
- What do we need to believe?
The short answer is "nothing" (or
perhaps "everything"). That answer is too
simple-minded and controversial to be useful, however. There are
two elements of John Wesley's thinking about Holy
Communion that have been inherited by modern
Methodism: Communion is both a confirming and
rite; and God works objectively
in the individual in the process of taking Holy
Communion. The objective work of God in the
individual through Holy Communion (God can, of
course, work on the individual anytime, as well) is
what we often call the "Real Presence" of Christ in
From the ideas recounted above Methodists have
concluded that Holy Communion is open to anyone and
everyone regardless of age or level of spiritual
formation or denomination. Some denominations require that a
person be baptized before taking Communion. In the United
Methodist tradition, however, a communicant does not need to be
baptized. Baptism, along with Holy Communion, are the two
primary sacraments of the Christian Church, although some
denominations recognize additional sacraments. A sacrament is
usually defined as an "outward sign of an inward and spiritual
grace." We understand that if a communicant truly confronts
God, and is confronted by God in the sacrament of Holy Communion,
baptism, which is the sign of entry into the universal Christian
Church, will ultimately be the result. God wants to
communicate with everyone and one of His chosen
vehicles for that communication is the rite of Holy