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Receiving the eucharist in non-Anglican contexts

Discussion in 'Scripture,Tradition,Reason-Anglican & Old Catholic' started by everbecoming2007, Jun 18, 2019.

  1. everbecoming2007

    everbecoming2007 Well-Known Member

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    I have a few guidelines I go by when considering receiving the Eucharist in non-Anglican contexts. For one, I want to know that I'm generally welcomed to receive such that I won't cause scandal by partaking. In some contexts the welcome is ambiguous, but I don't want to cause scandal, and I want to have a clear conscience.

    I also tend to only receive sacraments and sacramental rites from clergy or bishops within the apostolic succession. Unlike some, and I am welcome to correction on this point in case I may be wrong, I do tend to think that presbyteral succession as received by the Presbyterians and Methodists is a primitive and valid mode of the ancient succession. This is not a hard and fast rule for me. But I tend to think of the succession as a safeguard, and receiving the sacrament in these contexts means that I am receiving in the context of a community that professes the real presence. Again, this is not a hard and fast rule for me, so I cannot say what I would do in every situation, but I avoid receiving the sacrament in contexts that deny the real presence such as memorialism, and I prefer to receive from clergy ordained by bishops within the succession or at least a presbyteral succession.

    I have never received communion in a Presbyterian context, and I am not a fan of Calvinism (though I understand Presbyterians have come a long way in 500 years and these doctrines are not always binding on me in order to receive the sacrament), but I have felt welcomed in Methodist contexts and received there. In fact, it was a Methodist eucharist received in a very Anglican style that was the pivotal turning point for me in my conversion to Christianity. I have to admit that I was not baptized when I was receiving. I was welcomed, I received the welcome as a gesture of hospitality toward my hosts, and I was converted kneeling at the communion rail after receiving the sacrament, and I went home very joyful. I must also admit that at this time I did not have an understanding of sacraments or the relationship between baptism and the eucharist. I just knew as I received that bread in that moment, in my own theologically naive way at the time, that I was somehow receiving God into myself. It occurred to me in a flash like lightning. This is part of why I consider Methodist eucharists to be valid, though as an Anglican I don't speculate much on valid verses non-valid sacraments.

    The only reservation I have about receiving in Methodists contexts is that I am not sure that most Methodists believe in the real presence anymore, and I am horrified by how the remains of the sacrament may be treated after the service. Again, it's not a hard and fast rule. I obviously received the benefit of conversion in the context of a Methodist communion service and decided thereafter to receive baptism in an Episcopal Church. And I know the scriptures do not pronounce on how to dispose of the sacrament. Furthermore how the ministers and others dispose of the sacrament is on their conscience, not mine. I don't have any control over that. But my gut just wrenches at throwing the remainder of the elements into the trash or out into the grass. This strikes me as unseemly even in a memorialist context. If the sacrament is not reserved I feel that it should be consumed in its entirety, and if it is reserved, it should be with the intent of eventually consuming it in a dignified manner.

    I am not sure how universal the practices are in regard to disposing of the elements in the Anglican world. I would like to hear about this practice from the more Protestant inclined Continuing Anglicans as well. I know that in my parish and indeed every Episcopal parish I've visited there are special sinks for washing the communion cups in which the water flows into the earth instead of the sewer.

    I'd also like to hear about your own guidelines in receiving the Eucharist in non-Anglican contexts. Do you have any?
     
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  2. Tigger45

    Tigger45 St Benedict Supporter

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    It’s hard for me to add much because we are of the same mind concerning this topic.

    Now my wife who grew up a staunch Catholic, originally had reservations taking communion when we visited churches. She was burned out on Catholicism but old habits die hard. Our last church was Lutheran and they’d announce that the table was open so she warmed up to that but lately I’d been visiting an Episcopal church but she wouldn’t receive bc they didn’t announce the table was open to baptized Christians during the service. Last Sunday she attended with me but before we left I showed her on their website that their table was open and joyfully she joined me at the altar rail.
     
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  3. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Disposing of the elements would be a little bit contested in my diocese. (In particular, whether or not the sacrament can be reserved is highly contested). Generally speaking, reverent consumption would be the normal baseline, but the level of scrupulosity about any crumbs etc. would vary highly. And a piscina such as you describe for washing up is something I've only seen in very high-church contexts. Generally, washing up in the sink would be considered fine (after ablutions etc). Certainly I have no piscina in this parish, and washing up here is done in a normal sink.

    Where this tends to get particularly tricky is when, for some reason, there are remaining elements which are in some way contaminated; have been dropped on the ground, or (on one memorable occasion) when we realised after consecrating that the person who'd cleaned the chalice had left the inside full of brass polish... when consumption is not an option or a very undesirable option, while I'm sure some of my colleagues would be careful about putting such to earth, others might be less concerned.

    As for receiving in non-Anglican contexts, I receive wherever I am welcome to do so. Sometimes I might feel their liturgical practice is less than ideal, but I trust God's grace and mercy at work in that community.
     
  4. seeking.IAM

    seeking.IAM Episcopalian Supporter

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    I tend to be very ecumenical and believe that all baptized Christians should be welcome to receive communion in any Christian Church. I honor the wishes of churches with closed communion, but prefer not to worship there at all.

    Ecumenicism aside, there are some things that matter to me, notably the elements, the words of institution, and the overall approach. It has to be serious and meaningful (to me). Attempts to be cute and creative usually find me opting out. Things similar to any of these things can result in my passing: (Words of institution emphasizing "symbol" or "symbolic" or little in the way of words of institution at all)(Forgot the bread but we've got Ritz Crackers) (and Pepsi.) I don' think so much about apostolic succession but do require consecration by ordained clergy.

    Lastly, I'll share this observation for what it's worth. I was a Methodist for over 50 years and work in a faith-based agency of another mainline denomination. Now when I commune in one of those settings I experience communion as "less than," sort of anemic-like. I don't know why. The Eucharist has come to mean a lot more to me as an Episcopalian.
     
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  5. Tigger45

    Tigger45 St Benedict Supporter

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    The only congregation I visit anymore that views the elements as symbolic is with my daughter and her family. I participate in communion to not offend them especially since my S-i-L was a nonbeliever when they met and thank God he later got baptized, will lead prayer before meals and attends service together on occasion. No way would I be a stumbling block to him and their spiritual progression.
     
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  6. archer75

    archer75 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The one TEC parish about which I know anything around here is quite high-church and does indeed have a piscina. I don't know what exactly they do if the wine is spilled, but I know it takes a while for them to do it. I would guess the liquid is carefully cleaned up with cloths for that purpose, which are then thoroughly rinsed in the piscina?

    (Off-topic, but in case anyone cares: I know that a parishioner at a nearby parish managed to knock the chalice out of the celebrant's hand and spill the entire contents. Around here, that means both elements, mingled, all over the floor. I don't actually know how this would be cleaned up, but I assume that it is done with extreme care.

    Some people even pick up miniscule crumbs of the antidoron, which has not been consecrated but has been blessed. So although it is not the Body of Christ, and you can share it with literally anyone who is present (atheists, Buddhists, Christians with whom we're not in communion), some feel that care needs to be taken even with that, to be sure it isn't stepped on, mixed in with the trash, etc.)
     
  7. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

    +11,861
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    If they are very scrupulous, the cloths might be burned.

    I once witnessed an interaction between two young men, one of whom had had wine spilled on his new, expensive (for him) suit at communion. (I don't quite know how this happened, but that's not really the point). The other, a very pious and high-church fellow, advised him that he should burn the suit. He came to me quite distressed and I suggested that perhaps God would cope if the suit were dry cleaned.

    Which allows you to place where I fall on this spectrum; careful and respectful but erring on the side of being a little practical.
     
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  8. archer75

    archer75 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    And the ashes...buried?

    It seems that everyone, regardless of our official beliefs and practices, needs to do exactly what you describe doing: decide when respect for the elements is going too far. They may draw that line at different places, but everyone's going to have to draw it somewhere.

    With, I guess, the exception of those who officially declare it to be nothing but an act done in memory, for whom there is no Presence at all in the elements. That's what I grew up with -- the crumbs and little cups with grape juice clinging to their inner surfaces were all just swept into the trash with zero ceremony.
     
  9. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I suppose so? I don't think I have ever asked!

    Yes, exactly so.
     
  10. Symphorian

    Symphorian New Member

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    I'm CofE and my parish church has a good relationship with the Methodist Chapel in our village. We occasionally hold joint services. For the most part these are non Eucharistic services but a couple of years ago we were invited to an evening service which turned out to be a Communion service. I hadn't intended to receive due to my thoughts on Apostolic Succession and the fact that they use grape juice instead of wine. When it came to the distribution of Holy Communion it was a case of self service as the cubes of bread and wee cuppies of grape juice were passed around from person to person in the pews. The way distribution was handled made it difficult to abstain so I did in fact receive. A short time later I was asked to play the organ there for a Sunday morning service and it happened to be Communion Sunday. One of the elders placed a cube of bread and a wee cuppie of grape juice on the organ bench before the start of service. I thanked the elder but said that I'd already received at the parish church that morning so she took the elements away.

    My parish church is middle of the road but we reserve in an aumbry in the Lady Chapel. We have a couple of piscinae (if that's the right plural!) in our church but oddly not at the high altar. Unless reserved any remaining consecrated elements are reverently consumed at the altar where the ablutions are also carried out. After the service, the church warden/sacristan washes the vessels in a concealed sink at the back of the church.
     
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  11. Shane R

    Shane R Priest

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    It was a couple of years ago I suppose. I went to visit my parents and actually went to the Church of Christ Dad ministers to. It was a Sunday and thus a communion service. I passed the two plates/trays right along without partaking of anything. Afterward, my mother berated me, "Is our communion not good enough for you???"
     
  12. archer75

    archer75 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Ouch. Harsh. I'm sorry to hear this.
     
  13. everbecoming2007

    everbecoming2007 Well-Known Member

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    Around here the Church of Christ congregations do not commune outsiders. They will go out of their way to point at you and then pass the plate around you from what I was told by a former member, but I personally would not commune in their context anyhow.
     
  14. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    It must be different where I live, but as for us wanting to commune, I am not sure. However, I am inclined to think that since the church in question attaches nothing to the ordinance but symbolism there is no reason to decline. I would feel more comfortable communing in a Church of Christ or Disciples of Christ service than in a Roman Catholic one (assuming that the latter permitted it).

    The fellowship of believers is demonstrated and the sacrifice of Christ is commemorated. That's what the person sitting next to you in that church thinks is going on. All of us can agree there, even if we Anglicans see the sacrament (in a different church and worship service, that is) as meaning much more than that.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2019
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  15. everbecoming2007

    everbecoming2007 Well-Known Member

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    I have received in a memorialist context with my great grandfather in his home. It was a poignant moment. My reasoning was that we likely weren't observing the sacramental eucharist: there was no intention to do so, and it is possible that the form was deficient (no breaking of the bread and possibly other problems).

    Assuming this rite was not the sacrament, what it was wasn't bad in itself. We were essentially remembering what Jesus did for us in the context of what appeared to me to be a private devotion rather than a public rite or sacrament, and there was nothing wrong with it in itself, nor does my grandfather (Pentecostal with a Wesleyan background) bind communicants to a memorialist theology to receive. He openly shares this ceremony with all who believe in Jesus and doesn't require much more. So that was my take on the matter.

    I still don't think I would partake in the Church of Christ, but I would not be allowed it anyway. I don't much want to participate in memorialist contexts, but it was nice to pray with my grandfather.

    As an aside, coming from a Wesleyan background, he seems to have a higher view of what he would think of as the ordinance than what I usually hear from memorialists. He calls it "the sacrament," and he believes that when received with faith that our sins are cleansed. I am not sure how much he associates this with the sacrament, but I'd say that while the sacrament does convey what it symbolizes, it does take faith to be effective.

    He certainly didn't go on about how it was "just a symbol," before partaking as occurs in some contexts. I have not known the Pentecostals to do this. Usually in the context of a church service they impress upon one the need to repent so as not to be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

    I don't like much about my Oneness Pentecostal background, but my great grandparents (the grandfather still lives) were unique and special. My grandfather as I said had a Wesleyan background, and my grandmother grew up Holiness, and I have found much of the content of what they taught me personally to be useful as an Anglican, especially my grandmother who emphasized sanctification and ceaseless prayer. She also adhered to a form of the doctrine of theosis. My grandmother was so influential on me that like her, as a child, I would awake in the early hours, having stirred myself praying in my sleep. She taught me to become saturated in religious life. I did not grow up in a religious household, so my grandparents nurtured me in prayer and faith.

    Given my origins of faith with them, it wouldn't feel right to have declined to pray and eat with my grandfather.
     
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  16. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    My husband belongs to a Church of Christ (which from what I've gathered on CF, seems to be a bit more relaxed in Australia than in America). They practice an open table and I commune with them when I am there. I may not prefer their liturgy, but I cannot deny that God is present and active in them as a Christian community.

    But they've always treated me as something of an honorary member anyway; I've been invited to preach there a number of times and, in fact, preached my very first sermon there.
     
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  17. Shane R

    Shane R Priest

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    In the states, they would be more likely to take up stones to stone you than let you within a foot of the pulpit. At least, the faction I was raised in. They are quite sectarian and disorganized.
     
  18. Arcangl86

    Arcangl86 Newbie

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    Based on what the wiki has to say, it seems like the Australian Church of Christ is more similar to the Disciples of Christ then the Churches of Christ.

    Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) - Wikipedia for Paidiske. The Stone Campbell movement in the US resulted in a family of "related" denominations, though some of them are radically different from each other.
     
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  19. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    It must be that there are different factions, as you said, because my experience was more like that which Paidiske described. And that would seem to be the appropriate approach towards a visitor who is known to be a Christian, given that the historic slogan of the Churches of Christ is "Christians only, but not the only Christians."
     
  20. Shane R

    Shane R Priest

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    It breaks down something like this: Disciples of Christ (basically mainline these days); Christian Churches (instrumental); Churches of Christ (non-instrumental); Churches of Christ non-institutional (the sect I was raised in). Then there is the cultish outlier "International Churches of Christ" sometimes known as the "Boston Movement."
     
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