Last week I received a pre-packaged Communion much like what is depicted here. The church where I received this was very large and so my initial thought was that is not a bad idea because otherwise Communion would probably take forever. However, I began to dwell on the root of what I was thinking, which was, “Okay, lets get through Communion so we can get on to the real part of the service.” I don’t think many pastors or leaders would say this, but think about how often you observe Communion in your church. The early church frequently observed Communion, perhaps sometimes multiple times a week.
I have a problem with this for several reasons but I will only list a few:
1) It appears to follow suite with many other things in churches today in that it is consumeristic. I mean, just look at it. It is pre-packaged Communion for convenience. The whole point of Communion is remembrance and reflection on our Savior Jesus, who took on our sin, died in our place, carried our sin to the grave, and then conquered it when he rose! There is absolutely nothing convenient about the cross.
2) It takes one of the remaining active aspects of worship and makes it passive. Again, this comes back to our consumerist mentality. We often come to God’s house, not wanting to meet with Christ and be transformed by Him, but to receive a message on how we can make our lives better. So we sit in our seats and listen to the choir or band, then we listen to a sermon, and all the while there is no sacrifice on our part. I believe active worship is something liturgical churches do very well. In the Apostolic tradition there was a dialogue that the bishop/pastor had with his congregation prior to taking Communion that displays the importance that they placed on the Lord’s Table (Early Eucharist Dialogue).
3) It seems to emphasize the individual. I googled “Communion to go” and the above picture is what appeared first. One of the primary selling points for this pre-packaged Communion is that you have the freedom to take it whenever, or wherever you want. There is a reason it is called Communion, namely, that it is to be observed in Community. Again, I believe this is something liturgical churches do well.
In conclusion, I don’t like this. Its not that the pre-packaging in itself bothers me that much, rather it contributes to the overall low view of Communion. I do not think that Jesus would have spent His last night with His disciples commanding them to, “Do this in remembrance of me” if we are to only observe Communion once a year, wherever we want, make it about us, and get to the real part of the worship service. Shame on us! This is to be a sweet time with our brothers and sisters as we remember and reflect on the fact that Jesus Christ, the incarnate second person of the Trinity, suffered and died on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. This time is not to be quick, overlooked, down graded, individual, or passive because it’s not about you. It is a time of celebration, genuine community, and active worship as the Spirit stirs our love and affection for Jesus, as well as our love for each other. In my opinion, when it comes to Communion, take as much time as you need because there is no better place to be.