Tuesday, January 31, 2006

communion ettiquette

I noticed something Sunday at the church my family attends. Like all other areas of life, there is an unwritten communion etiquette... (non-Biblical- definitely cultural according to one's tradition)

Don't speak to anyone, other than a thank you for the elements.

No full on eye contact. If you do make eye contact, look away quickly. If you must smile at another celebrant, do so sheepishly.

Don't look to anxious when coming to the front (in a tradition which allows you to come at your leisure). You have to sit for a moment to make sure others know you are taking this moment as seriously as Paul wanted you to. But, do not take too long, lest anyone think you have serious sin issues in your life.

Take a small piece of bread. You don't want to look hungry. Plus, you don't want to choke on the tiny amount of wine/ juice you are about to receive.

Name some more.


L Mc said...

what about the pre-receival ettiquite, when you must bow your head to simulate prayer, but you also must keep one eye out in case it becomes your row's turn.

And I've never been clear on the standing in the isle while singing is occuring ettiquette, is it showing off and/or obnoxious to join in? Or is it snobbish and/or disrespectful not to?

And how about balcony ettiquette? That always trips people up.

At this church I used to go to everyone stood in the corner facing away from the congregation after receiving the elements, and the guy I went with always was bothered because it looks like the group of people got in trouble and is serving some punishment.

it's really sort of silly isn't it?

Mike said...

when i was serving up in canada we used to "rip and dip" which was a crude way of talking about it. but the practice was that it was about repentence and joy and community and many many more things. we would all sit in a circle and then aproach the sacriment and be served (real bread and a big cup) and then turn and serve the next person.

that was a good example i think

franksta said...

I'm a former Baptist minister, now in training as an Anglican priest (my last pastor calls me "Banglican"). I still love my Baptist people, but it would be hard for me to go back to (a) not celebrating communion ever week; and/or (b) the strange, tortured observances I suffered as a Baptist.

It's powerful to hear someone say to me boldly, "the body of Christ, the bread of heaven" or "the blood of Christ, the cup of salvation." Getting to say those words now as a deacon-soon-to-be-priest is quite humbling and awe-inspiring.

Come, Rick, the Prayer Book is calling you...

(BTW, I'm yet another of Rick's former roommates!)

Alex F said...

For what its worth, the baptist church we are members of has communion like you describe every week.

franksta said...

Alex, that's cool, and I know quite a few Baptist churches do that. I think that's one of the cool things coming out of Baptists connecting with the Ancient-Future and Emergent worlds.