Seven Ideas for Helping Worshipers Experience Communion More Deeply

Your leeway in celebrating the Lord's Supper will depend on your tradition's liturgical stipulations, doctrines, theology, or church architecture. But chances are that some of these ideas will fit your situation.

Your leeway in celebrating the Lord's Supper will depend on your tradition's liturgical stipulations, doctrines, theology, or church architecture. But chances are that some of these ideas will fit your situation.

The first three suggestions come from or are adapted from ideas presented by Martha Moore-Keish at a recent Calvin Symposium on Worship. You can read more about these ideas in her chapter of A More Profound Alleluia: Theology and Worship in Harmony.

  • Preach a children's sermon based on Isaiah 11:6-9 (“The wolf shall live with the lamb…”). Place stuffed animals in unlikely pairings—lion and lamb, bear and cow, maybe even a snake and a doll. Ask children if animals live together like this at a zoo. What would happen if the zookeeper put a wolf and lamb in the same cage? Help them imagine how God will someday make all these animals friends and how God wants all those who come to his table to be friends.
  • Use a clip from the 1984 film Places in the Heart to explain God's vision for communion in the future. Summarize the story line and then show the last ten minutes of the film. Many churches, including the Cumberland Presbyterians, have successfully used this method.
  • Ask visual artistsin your church to create banners or other art based on verses that deepen worshipers' understanding of the Eucharist:
    • “Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:29).
    • “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day” (John 6:54).
    • “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
    • “And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb' ” (Revelation 19:9).
  • Vary the setting. Celebrate communion outside your church walls or invite another congregation to join you.
  • Symposium choir members passing the bread and the cupVary the method. If you usually pass individual cups and bread pieces pew by pew, then consider having people come forward to receive communion.
  • Use elements common to other cultures to remind you that Christians around the world celebrate this sacrament. You might ask your missionaries how they commemorate the Lord's Supper with their new converts. Or use bread that's different from what your congregation usually uses—rye, pita, chapati, or rice cakes.
  • Include children. At Church of the Servant Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, professing members gather in successive circles around the pulpit and communion table. Children or teens stand in front of their parents if they want to receive a blessing from an elder or deacon. Pregnant women sometimes receive a blessing on behalf of their unborn children.

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