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Messy Communion or not?

Posted by Lucy Moore on 26 May 2015

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Just had an enquiry about Holy Communion 'although most of the team are for it, one or two are against it: what would you say to them?' I thought it might be worth popping down the answer I've just sent.

To those who don’t agree with HC in MC, I would suggest that they think about what they believe the Eucharist is really all about and what they think Messy Church really is.

Is Holy Communion a reward for Christians who understand it, have done the course and already ‘belong’, or is it a gift from Jesus to help us all ‘taste and see that God is good’, to remember him by and to celebrate his death and resurrection?

I would suggest we are in a very different position from the early Christians who could only receive initiated candidates into HC because they were in such danger of being infiltrated and persecuted by those who opposed them. In other words, we have the luxury of welcoming people to the Lord’s Table with less discrimination  (not to our table, note).

I’d suggest looking at the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper and Paul’s advice to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 10-11.

And if anyone suggests MC cannot do HC respectfully and in an orderly way without eating and drinking judgment on themselves, all I can say is, try it, do it well, and they’ll be surprised and perhaps shocked at the attitude of those who take part.

And is Messy Church just an outreach fun thing or is it church? If it’s just outreach and fun, it makes complete sense to avoid HC because HC is not superficial fun and certainly not the first thing you’d do when you invite someone to church. If  MC is church, it makes sense to offer it occasionally or even often so that the families can see, taste and join in something that is at the heart of many Christians’ church life. If it helps them come closer to God, surely it can only be a good thing, even if they decide only to watch? The whole experiential nature of HC resonates strongly with MC’s multisensory approach and the participatory way we do things. Done well, it can reflect community and equality, the power of eating together and thus gives people a better understanding of what the meal in MC is trying to do.

I would say we are currently fighting against the liturgical rules in the CofE – we are legally obliged to use a form of service which is far too wordy and lengthy for most Messy Churches, so I’m amazed the HC’s that have happened in MC have been as fantastic as they are. But I think if we can get permission / encouragement to respectfully and wisely reinvent the Communion service to show true hospitality to our guests, as well as to the more mature Christians, we could have an even more meaningful and rich reminder of Jesus’ amazing love for each of us through the food he gives us to eat at his table.

However! There will always be people who disagree about something as powerful, precious and emotive as Communion, so I’m very happy to be seen to be on a learning curve with it all and not to have all the answers by any means.