As I write this, the H1N1 flu and swine flu are making the rounds in congregations. Everybody knows at least one person who has had it, or is suffering with it. People in worship are hesitant to use a common cup, eat bread from a common loaf, or touch pieces of bread handled by others. Maintaining a safe and healthy worship environment is both challenging and essential. The sacrament of Holy Communion is a powerful experience of the presence and power of Christ that we need to continue to observe. It is for times such as these, that the Sacrament speaks words of hope, faith, and God’s loving presence in Christ. Churches and pastors are developing some creative ways to celebrate the sacrament meaningfully in the shadow of communicable disease. Here are some:
1. When using individual cups, the congregant first cups hands to receive the consecrated bread. The server will place the bread in the congregant’s hand with a small set of tongs. The congregant then takes a cup and communes.
2. Similar as above, only the servers have white gloves on and use gloved fingers to distribute the elements. They also can have a plastic glove under the white glove. This idea came out of a discussion with a pastor.
3. Some churches have small bottles of hand sanitizers and tissues in the pews for worshippers to use prior to greeting time, and taking communion.
4. In some churches, as worshippers come forward for communion, an assistant offers them some hand sanitizer.
5. Servers wash their hands in a basin of soap and water and then use the sanitizer.
6. Some congregations purchase the individual cups of grape juice with a bread wafer with it. Each congregant first, peels the top off, taking the bread, then peels the second covering over the cup, drinks from the cup.
People can be really creative when faced with challenges concerning celebration of the sacrament of Holy Communion. Maybe the old adage of cleanliness is next to godliness has new meaning in our day. Have you seen an innovative way of celebrating communion? I’d love to hear your comments