In The United Church of Canada, we have an “open table” where everyone is welcome to feast on “the bread of life” and drink from “the cup of healing, of salvation, of wholeness”.
This is a table that celebrates God’s abundant love made known in creation and remembered in the stories of Jesus. Jesus “broke bread” when feeding 5,000. Jesus “broke bread” and “shared wine” often by gathering for meals with both the elite and those considered outcasts. In all these meals, the Scriptures stories describe Jesus calling us to live justly and compassionately. We also remember the time when Jesus broke bread and shared wine with his friends at a meal just before his death (a meal often referred to as the Last Supper). This meal enacts a story of liberation and salvation.
In all of these stories, we are reminded that God’s abundant love is for all of creation. Therefore, there are no barriers to participation. A person does not have to have it “all figured out” or “all together” because this is a table where God’s unconditional love accepts us as we are. In addition, we clearly indicate that age, gender, orientation, religious affiliation are not barriers to participation.
Our Practice of Communion
At First, we utilize the practise of “intinction”. It works this way.
After the bread and cup have been blessed, everyone is invited forward to one of three “serving stations” in front of the table. We invite those sitting in the pews to come first followed by those sitting in the chairs. As we come, we sing.
At the station, each person breaks off a piece of bread (we also have rice cakes for those with allergies), from the common loaf as a symbol of God’s abundant love. The server reminds each person this is “the bread of life”. Each person then dips the bread in the cup we use grape juice in solidarity with those in recovery and for the inclusion of children) as the server reminds each person that this is the cup of God’s abundant love and healing.
After dipping the bread (or rice cake) in the cup, each person eats the bread and then returns to their seat using the outside aisles.
On the way, we offer three stations for anointing and prayer during communion. You may be seeking guidance or healing; if so, we invite you to take a moment to be anointed with oil. The practice of anointing is a traditional Christian practice that invites God’s healing presence into our lives and bodies.