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crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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Communion on Christmas Eve.

Does your church serve communion on Christmas Eve?

 

The church that I was at had a large congregation on Christmas Eve - mostly strangers and families from away with parents and grandparents. It seemed that they were very uncomfortable - didn't know what to do; didn't know what to say - so my question is -

 

Should we serve Communion and be exclusive  OR

 

Honour the tradition of the Sunday goers.

 

( By, the way, this church stopped having communion) but the reason was not inclusion but TIME )

 

 

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RichardBott's picture

RichardBott

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 How about celebrating communion in a way that includes people? Explanations of what is happening and why - invitations to come to the table as you are comfortable, etc.

 

Christ's peace - r

Panentheism's picture

Panentheism

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Richard gives some pointers on how to make it more comfortable.  My stance is we have communion because that is the central feast of the church. Now some are not as eucharistally centered so it is a question but if you see the eucharist as central there is no question but to do it.  It is like would you stop reading the christmas story because some read it a literal narrative - if you had people over and you always did a blessing would you stop?

 

If you come to a christmas service that is what you should expect - and again - for me communion is the reason for the service.

clergychickita's picture

clergychickita

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Our congregation has been having two services -- a 7 pm  more boisterious service without communion, and a 10 pm quieter communion service.  This year (praise be to God and thanks to the worship team) we are trying just having one service -- our congregation is quite small, so it wasn't really making sense to have two services.  I'm attempting to blend some elements from each service into the one -- time for quieter reflection and time for joyous singing, etc.  We will offer communion in our usual way -- explaining it, inviting all to the table, and making room for folks to do what is most comfortable to them.  God will be the host, our congregation members will be hospitable friends, and any strangers will be welcome to participate in any way that feels comfortable.

shalom

musicsooths's picture

musicsooths

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We also have 2 services an early family service with choir singing and a play this is a rousing tme. There is no communion. the late service is traditional with communion we all stand in a circle around the gym and the elements are passed around then we turn off all the lights and sing Silent Night.  It is very meaningful.

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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crazyheart wrote:

Does your church serve communion on Christmas Eve?

 

No. We don't even have a Christmas Eve service.

 

Quote:
Should we serve Communion and be exclusive

 

Oh, I think communion should always be a closed sacrament.

 

crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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Aquila. exactly what does THAT mean?

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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crazyheart wrote:

Aquila. exactly what does THAT mean?

 

A closed sacrament? It means restricting the serving of the Holy Communion elements to those who are members of a particular denomination or congregation. Personally I believe it should be done at the denominational level, including churches who are in fellowship with the denomination, and even other Christians in emergency and pastoral care situations.

Tabitha's picture

Tabitha

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The United church has an open table policy-all are welcome at Christ's Table

Our church has 2 services-an earlier "child friendly" service and a later more adult oriented one.

Communion is not served Christmas eve.

We have communion the first Sunday of every month.

DKS's picture

DKS

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Aquila wrote:

crazyheart wrote:

Aquila. exactly what does THAT mean?

 

A closed sacrament? It means restricting the serving of the Holy Communion elements to those who are members of a particular denomination or congregation. Personally I believe it should be done at the denominational level, including churches who are in fellowship with the denomination, and even other Christians in emergency and pastoral care situations.

 

That sounds like the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

lastpointe's picture

lastpointe

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I agree that communion is an important part of our Christmas eve service.  We do it at the 11 p.m. service and have a family one at 7ish that doesn't have communion.

 

But for us, as I guess all UCC, communion is not "our " celebration/sacrament.  It is God's table and all are welcome.  We swtich around a bit but generally our late service is 200 plus people, a we do a passed communion.  SO as a guest, there isn't anything to "know", just listen and pass the plates.

 

 

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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DKS wrote:

That sounds like the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

 

That's the direction that I'm going in. Well, actually the Lutheran Church - Canada. The Lutherans are not the only ones who practice closed communion though (and some Lutherans do not practice that communion that way). For a time a few years back I was considering the United Reform Church. They also practice closed communion. Do you have experience with the LCMS? I've been reading their stuff and really like it.

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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lastpointe wrote:

But for us, as I guess all UCC, communion is not "our " celebration/sacrament.  It is God's table and all are welcome.  We swtich around a bit but generally our late service is 200 plus people, a we do a passed communion.  SO as a guest, there isn't anything to "know", just listen and pass the plates.

 

Yes, I agree that it is a God-sacrament. I believe He uses it as a conduit grace-conduit. Through it He strenthens the believers-faith, which is why only believers should be taking it. They are the only ones God will call to the sacrament. I believe the table should be fenced in. That is to say, the pastor should guard who receives the elements. To take them improperly is to risk judgement and the pastor should strive to ensure that happens to no one.

Rev. Steven Davis's picture

Rev. Steven Davis

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Quote:

Yes, I agree that it is a God-sacrament. I believe He uses it as a conduit grace-conduit. Through it He strenthens the believers-faith, which is why only believers should be taking it. ... They are the only ones God will call to the sacrament. I believe the table should be fenced in. That is to say, the pastor should guard who receives the elements. 

 

That's not consistent with what you said earlier, Aquila. I have no problem with "believers-only" Communion. In fact, I believe in it. Why would you want to take Christian Communion if you weren't a believer. But that's not the same thing as restricting Communion strictly to members of a congregation or denomination, unless one's theology says that the only "true" Christians are members of that congregation or denomination. The Invititation to the Table that I use says something like "all who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are welcome to come to this table and receive the gifts God has provided." To say that 

 

Quote:

the pastor should guard who receives the elements

would then put me in the uncomfortable position of defying the instructions of Jesus not to judge, which I interpret as meaning not to judge the sincerity of a person's faith or their eternal fate.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:28 that "a man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup." Of course, I believe Paul meant both men and women and that "man" is used here in the generic sense. That verse puts the onus on the individual receiving communion to decide the appropriateness of them receiving Communion, not on the church or the pastor.

 

As to our Christmas Eve traditions, we have two services. Family Service is at 7:00. It is usually very heavy on music and other presentations (the last couple of years our Puppet Team has been a significant part of kicking this service off) with several congregational carols and usually a very brief meditation from yours truly. A twist this year is that we will be conducting a baptism at 7 p.m. A young and quite involved family wanted their baby baptized Christmas Eve. We discussed this with the Board and the decision was that a baptism fit nicely with the "family" theme and the image of a baby in the Christmas Eve service didn't seem out of place. We'll have probably 250-300 at that service. Communion is at 11 p.m. Open to all, but only the hardy and really committed come out (so it's inclusive, but only if you really want to be included!) We'll have probably 40-50 at that. I had never done an 11 p.m. Christmas Eve service until coming here. I've come to very much enjoy it. It's a very informal, quiet, reflective type of service that I find very meaningful.

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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Rev. Steven Davis wrote:
Why would you want to take Christian Communion if you weren't a believer.

 

Oh, I think some people may do it because they just happen to be in a church and don't want to be singled out. They may feel pressured by people around them. They may fear others-rejection.

 

Quote:
But that's not the same thing as restricting Communion strictly to members of a congregation or denomination, unless one's theology says that the only "true" Christians are members of that congregation or denomination.

 

They are the ones whom the pastor should feel most firmly are true Christians, and he is the one who will have to give an account for how he has performed his pastoral duties including the elements-distribution.

 

Quote:
would then put me in the uncomfortable position of defying the instructions of Jesus not to judge, which I interpret as meaning not to judge the sincerity of a person's faith or their eternal fate.

 

Jesus is the judge, I agree. God is the only one who knows who the true Christians are, that is to be sure. However, we can use discernment and form opinions on whether someone follows Christ or not.

 

"You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" - Matthew 7:16 (NLT)

 

Quote:
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:28 that "a man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup." Of course, I believe Paul meant both men and women and that "man" is used here in the generic sense. That verse puts the onus on the individual receiving communion to decide the appropriateness of them receiving Communion, not on the church or the pastor.

 

Recall that Paul was writing that epistle to the Corinthian Church. The Christian individual has the responsibility to examine themself and decide if they should take communion at the time it is offered. No argument there.

GordW's picture

GordW

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In the UCCan it is not the minister who decides who partakes.  THe minister merely presides at Sacraments [Baptism and Communion].  Decisions about how and when and who are made by the Session (or equivalent).  The clergy provide input and advice and theological reflection but not "this is how it must be done" as in the end she/he is only one vote otn the Session (or equivalent).  Certainly it is wholly inappropriate for any cleric to have the arrogance to decide who is "worthy".

 

Within our WEsleyan background there is a thread that holds that partaking in the sacrament may well be what brings a person to faith.  Partaking may be the opening that allows the SPirit to enter and warm a person's heart.  What right to we have to limit how the SPirit will work?  The Communion table is not the minister's.  It is not the church's.  It belongs to no one but God.  God invites folks to the table.  Why would we presume to know who has been invited?

Rev. Steven Davis's picture

Rev. Steven Davis

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 Amen, GordW!

crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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Amen and Amen

Tabitha's picture

Tabitha

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This is slight aside but when I was in university a roomate went to the Brethern Church.

Not only was communion a closed table so was the offering! If you weren't a member the plate bypassed you.

While I disagreed with the theology of a closed table I found the consistency refreshing.

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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GordW wrote:
In the UCCan it is not the minister who decides who partakes.  THe minister merely presides at Sacraments [Baptism and Communion].  Decisions about how and when and who are made by the Session (or equivalent).

 

Ah, I see. I didn't know that. 

 

Quote:
Within our WEsleyan background there is a thread that holds that partaking in the sacrament may well be what brings a person to faith.  Partaking may be the opening that allows the SPirit to enter and warm a person's heart.  What right to we have to limit how the SPirit will work?  The Communion table is not the minister's.  It is not the church's.  It belongs to no one but God.  God invites folks to the table.  Why would we presume to know who has been invited?

 

Personally I do not agree that partaking in communion brings a person to faith. I believe that it is people who have faith who are to partake. The sacrament in which God first gives people the power to believe is the baptism-sacrament. In communion God strengthens our faith. Why should someone who has no faith seek to have said faith strengthened?

 

As a side note, the United Church has a Wesleyan background? Since when? It was first comprised of Methodists, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians.

Rev. Steven Davis's picture

Rev. Steven Davis

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Aquila wrote:

As a side note, the United Church has a Wesleyan background? Since when? It was first comprised of Methodists, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians.

 

 Aquila, the founder of Methodism was John Wesley. Does that not count as Wesleyan?

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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Rev. Steven Davis wrote:

Aquila, the founder of Methodism was John Wesley. Does that not count as Wesleyan?

 

 

That counts as Methodism. The Wesleyan Church is a seperate denomination. In any event, I understand what you're saying. What percentage of the founders of the United Church held to the views of Wesley?

artemisia's picture

artemisia

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Just to respond to ch's original questions...

 

Yes, our church serves communion on Christmas Eve, but only at one of the services.

(We have 3 services.  A children's service at 4:30, a family/choir service at 8:00, and a candlelight communion service at 10:00.  I go to all three because I am just that much of a church geek! haha  No, actually my daughter helps out with the junior choir for the children's service, I myself am in the adult choir so sing at the family service, and then the youth lead the candlelight service, so again, my daughter is involved.)

 

I am in complete agreement with the United Church's open table communion policy.   I also like that we use juice instead of wine so that those, like young children, are not excluded.

DKS's picture

DKS

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Aquila wrote:

DKS wrote:

That sounds like the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

 

That's the direction that I'm going in. Well, actually the Lutheran Church - Canada. The Lutherans are not the only ones who practice closed communion though (and some Lutherans do not practice that communion that way). For a time a few years back I was considering the United Reform Church. They also practice closed communion. Do you have experience with the LCMS? I've been reading their stuff and really like it.

 

I wasn't aware the LCC practiced a closed communion. The ELCIC (Evangelical Lutheran Chirch in Canada) most emphatically does not.

 

Yes, I have some experience with the LCMS. None of it particularly positive.

DKS's picture

DKS

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Aquila wrote:

Rev. Steven Davis wrote:

Aquila, the founder of Methodism was John Wesley. Does that not count as Wesleyan?

 

 

That counts as Methodism. The Wesleyan Church is a seperate denomination. In any event, I understand what you're saying. What percentage of the founders of the United Church held to the views of Wesley?

 

A large number (the largest, I believe) were Methodists

Dcn. Jae's picture

Dcn. Jae

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DKS wrote:

I wasn't aware the LCC practiced a closed communion. The ELCIC (Evangelical Lutheran Chirch in Canada) most emphatically does not.

 

Yes, I have some experience with the LCMS. None of it particularly positive.

 

Communion-mode is not a prime reason why I prefer the LCC to the ELCIC. It has more to do with their more conservative Scripture-view. Anyway, please tell me more either here or through Wondermail about your LCMS experiences. I'd like to learn more about conservative Lutheranism before I make the move there.

GordW's picture

GordW

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DKS wrote:

Aquila wrote:

DKS wrote:

That sounds like the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod.

 

That's the direction that I'm going in. Well, actually the Lutheran Church - Canada. The Lutherans are not the only ones who practice closed communion though (and some Lutherans do not practice that communion that way). For a time a few years back I was considering the United Reform Church. They also practice closed communion. Do you have experience with the LCMS? I've been reading their stuff and really like it.

 

I wasn't aware the LCC practiced a closed communion. The ELCIC (Evangelical Lutheran Chirch in Canada) most emphatically does not.

 

Yes, I have some experience with the LCMS. None of it particularly positive.

LCC does generally practice closed communion.  LCC clergy are also not allowed to participate in ecumenical services as a general rule.  But I think there is some room for variation, based on the two LCC clergy I have known since arriving here in town.

GordW's picture

GordW

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Aquila wrote:

Rev. Steven Davis wrote:

Aquila, the founder of Methodism was John Wesley. Does that not count as Wesleyan?

 

 

That counts as Methodism. The Wesleyan Church is a seperate denomination. In any event, I understand what you're saying. What percentage of the founders of the United Church held to the views of Wesley?

WEsleyan is an adjective that refers directly back to Wesley.  MEthodist churches are WEsleyan.  ANd as DKS has said the Methodists were the largest partner, although it is arguable that the PResbyterians and Congregationalists (both Reformed theology) had a larger impact on the theology of the Articles of Faith.

Northwind's picture

Northwind

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Aquila wrote:
They are the ones whom the pastor should feel most firmly are true Christians, and he is the one who will have to give an account for how he has performed his pastoral duties including the elements-distribution.

 

I would never want to belong to a church where a person can decide whether or not I am  a "true Christian". That is very paternalistic and judgemental.

 

I love that the UCC has an open table and sees the communion table as God's table rather than our table. It is inviting and friendly.

 

 

preecy's picture

preecy

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One of the best things to come out of the emerging spirit campaign has been that a lot of churches looked at how they did things and realised hey we should explain all of these things that we assume everyone has memorized just because we have memorized them.  So the more explicit (hehe I just had an image of my minister giving communion instructions using language that would have a parental advisory sticker attatched to it) instructions for communion have been nice to see.

 

Peace

 

Joel

P.S.

at home we have two services both with communion largely the same service (two different builidngs\towns)

Beloved's picture

Beloved

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crazyheart wrote:

Does your church serve communion on Christmas Eve?

 

 

For a few years when we had an early and a late service, we did at the late service.

 

crazyheart wrote:

 

Should we serve Communion and be exclusive  OR

 

Honour the tradition of the Sunday goers.

 

 

I think whether or not to serve Communion should be based on the service - if it is a service early in the evening (let's say 7ish) that is directed towards or expectating families with children and families that are visiting . . . I would lean on the idea that perhaps a Communion Service would not be the best, (unless the doctrine of the church is to have communion at every service or celebrate the eucharist as in the Catholic church).

 

If it is a midnight or late evening service, which will in all likelihood be adults . . . then I think go ahead, and make it inclusive and open to all who are present.  The instructions for the receiving of communion should be well spelled out in case there are guests.  We should not assume in any communion celebration that everyone present knows what is expected, disallowed, or what is to take place.

 

Hope, peace, joy, love . . .

 

RevJamesMurray's picture

RevJamesMurray

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At my previous parish we had a family service at 5:30, and a formal service at 10:30. We served communion at both, but with different liturgies. The early service always outdrew the late one.

At my current parish, we have one service at 6:30pm. Last year it felt more like a choral concert. This year we are having communion for the first time.

crazyheart's picture

crazyheart

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Beloved]</p> <p>[quote=crazyheart wrote:

 

Should we serve Communion and be exclusive  OR

 

Honour the tradition of the Sunday goers.

 

 

beloved , by exclusive, I meant making people uncomfortable who are not familiar with the Sacrament of Communion.

 

RevJamesMurray's picture

RevJamesMurray

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Crazyheart wrote "by exclusive, I meant making people uncomfortable who are not familiar with the Sacrament of Communion."

 I think what you are describing is a matter of hospitality, and not exclusivity.  It is not exclusionary to offer a good bottle of wine to someone who is used to drinking Baby Duck, but it may be a waste of good wine.

If your service is geared to seekers, then make it seeker friendly. If your church is unapologetically Christian, then offer communion.

 

RevMatt's picture

RevMatt

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I miss Christmas Eve Communion.  Grew up with it.  I agree with what has been said by others, that it works best as something done at the late service.

 

 

RevJamesMurray wrote:

If your service is geared to seekers, then make it seeker friendly. If your church is unapologetically Christian, then offer communion.

 

I'm not sure the two are necessarily incompatible, although it certainly takes a lot more effort to have Communion at a seeker-friendly service. 

Panentheism's picture

Panentheism

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At my last parish and the one before we had communion at both services - the baby service was earlier for young families.   As Matt said a seeker service can have communion and as James said it is question of hospitality - making people feel welcome.

 

I am a firm believer in having children at communion - it is like a table at home - one learns the habits of eating - I noitce even young children get it - they have a sense of occasion and spirituaiity when they come to the front.

 

As far as wine is concerned one can have two cups and some of us taught our children about drinking by having some wine for them -

Panentheism's picture

Panentheism

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By the way when I was not in a charge but a member and my local church did not have communion at christmas eve - I found another church or did not go.

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