Receiving the Blood of Christ
Today is Maundy Thursday, and this evening we will gather at 7pm at Gray’s Event Center and via livestream to remember two important moments: Jesus’ Institution of the Holy Eucharist, and his commandment that we love one another just as he has loved us (John 13:34).
In light of the first moment, I have decided to offer “communion under both kinds” – technical language which simply means offering both the bread and the wine during Eucharist. After some research and several conversations with our Bishop, wardens, and others, I have decided to do this through the practice of intinction, dipping the bread into the wine. Here’s what it will look like:
· As is our current practice, Deacon Sallie and I will sanitize our hands at the credence table (the table behind the altar) and come to the front of the altar, wearing our masks.
· An acolyte will stand between us, holding the paten (the container that holds the consecrated bread). Deacon Sallie and I will each hold a separate chalice with consecrated wine.
· For each person receiving, we will dip the host into the wine, taking care not to touch the wine with our fingers. Next, we will touch the host on the inside of the chalice to remove any droplets of wine. We will then hold out the host for you to receive in your hand.
· You will receive the host in the way that has become our norm – returning to your seat, briefly removing your mask to receive the bread dipped in wine, then replacing your mask.
Deacon Sallie and I have practiced this at home, and have found it quite simple to dip the wafer without touching the wine, and to keep a portion of it dry enough for a person to receive easily and safely. If you would prefer to continue receiving only the bread, simply place one arm across your chest to communicate to us that preference.
We will continue this practice for the foreseeable future. While it does not bring us to the place that many of us desire – drinking the wine as has been the practice of the Church since the original Maundy Thursday – it is another care-full step in that direction. We remain committed to loving each other and our community by following the guidelines we’ve come to know very well: washing our hands, wearing masks, maintaining appropriate distance, having our extended conversations outside. Even as Spring brightens our days and increasing numbers of people receive the vaccine, I encourage you to remain vigilant in these practices, at our services and throughout the week.
I look forward to continuing our journey this Holy Week, as we walk with Jesus, carrying with us the things we desire to be made new. And I’m genuinely excited that this will now include giving you a taste of the wine, “the blood of Christ, [which will] cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14).
Your Pastor in Christ,