The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Rushing God

Communion is an important sacrament for us as Christians. So why are we rushing things? Rushing God?

I remember when communion was done by individual table. People filed to the altar rail and knelt or stood. Communion then was served. When all at the table were fed, the people were dismissed. The next group then came forward and were fed. That continued until all in the congregation who could commune had done so.

But then continuous communion was introduced. People go to the altar rail when space allows. Communion servers continuously go from communicant to communicant. The idea, after receiving the eucharist, is that communicants may stay as long as they want or need to in prayer. But rarely does anyone stay longer than "their turn" allows. Then the communicant goes back to the pew and another takes his or her place at the rail. The dismissal is given after all have communed.

Many people thought continuous communion was brought in to make the service move along more quickly. I've heard it called "fast food." While I still would prefer individual tables, I've finally accepted the reason I was given for continuous communion: theologically it puts everyone at one table. It's meant to represent that we are all one family under God's loving care.

But then came communion stations. Communion servers stand in one place while people line up and file past them. When communicants step forward, they are first given bread. No sooner than the bread gets into their mouth, they step sideways to receive the wine—and are left to return to their pews still chewing and swallowing. In some churches, there's space made at the altar rail for individual prayer after communing. The dismissal is again given after all have communed.

I can't accept stations. If continuous communion is "fast food," stations are "drive-through." As a child I was never allowed to graze by the dinner table and leave while still chewing my food, nor did I allow my child to do so. Why, then, are we forcing that at God's supper? Must we, in the hurry of our society, rush God? Shouldn't the eucharist be a time to slow down with time to receive and communicate with God?

I encourage all congregations to examine their communion practices and challenge them accordingly. May we keep God's time precious—a thing not to be rushed.


This week's front page features:

nov cover4Stamped by patriarchy: (right) Patri-what? What is this and what does it do to women and men?

Upholding dignity: In Cambodia, Lutheran organization turns management over to residents. 

Mission: Congregational renewal: Grand View gives back to Iowa parishes and leaders.

Thankful giving: Youth know the importance of helping others. 

AlsoLiving in joy and gratitude.

Also: The spirituality of pregnancy.

AlsoA doll for Amina.

Read these articles at our front page ...

Discuss patriarchy and sexism

StreufertNov. 17-24: Join Mary Streufert (right) to discuss patriarchy and sexism.

Consider reading our cover stories, including "Stamped by patriarchy," before joining in.




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