Serving Communion

Celebrating the Lord’s Supper is central to every worship service. Through the bread we break and the cup we bless we participate in Christ’s body and blood through a divine mystery, a sacrament.

Ceramic and silver communion sets on the Communion Table in the Sanctuary.

Presbyterians believe that the bread and grape are unchanged, but the meal is more than a sign. Christ is really present, but not merely in the elements. By the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, this symbolic unites all the faithful in heaven and on earth.

Christ Jesus invites all people who trust him as Lord and Savior to come to this table and to partake of this sacrament. Ordinarily, this trust is demonstrated by baptism prior to participating in this ritual meal. Parents are encouraged to teach their children about this ritual.

The Lord’s Supper, proclaims and celebrates the work of God. The prayer of during communion is known as the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving.

The bread and cup we share are a foretaste of God’s final renewal of creation.

Nicene Creed, which begins “We believe,” emphasizes our common faith and is an appropriate creed for communion.

Every method for serving communion accents one aspect of this sacred meal while minimizing other aspects. We typically serve either by Pieces and Cups or by Intinction.

Who Serves?

In most cases, five elders in addition to the pastor and the liturgist serve the elements. Other members of the congregation may also serve communion when invited by the Session.

Those serving communion should meet with the pastor prior to communion. For the 8:15 AM service, they may chat with the pastor during the fellowship time prior to worship. For the 10:00 AM service, they may coordinate with the pastor regarding where to stand and what they will hold in the Library at 9:45 AM.

The liturgist typically shares with the pastor in leading the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving.

The servers will gather in the rear of the Sanctuary as the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving begins. They come forward immediately after the Prayer of Thanksgiving when the pastor says words similar to: “Come for all is ready.”

Pieces and Cups

This method can be very formal and emphasizes communion as a gift. Thus we use polished silver trays to hold the pieces of bread and the cups. This can be emphasized by bringing the elements in during the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving by the servers.

The following process is completed first distributing the bread to everyone and then repeated distributing the cups.

The pastor and the liturgist place a tray in the hands of each of the servers. Then immediately receive a piece of bread or a cup from the servers.

  • Server 1 serves those nearest the windows on the pulpit side.
  • Server 2 serves those nearest the center on the pulpit side.
  • Server 3 serves those nearest the center on the piano side.
  • Server 4 serves those nearest the windows on the piano side including the pianist/organist.
  • Server 5 immediately leaves via the north aisle (near the piano) to serve and those in the Narthex, Library, Nursery, Sunday School, etc.

When everyone has been served, the servers gather in the back of the Sanctuary then process forward. The Pastor and the Liturgist collect the trays while serving the servers.

Intinction

The use of a common cup emphasizes connection to one another through communion. This emphasis can be accented by arranging the chairs around the communion table and having participants serve one another.

For Intinction the servers form two serving stations near the front steps.

As the congregation comes forward servers 1, 2, 3, and 4 remain by the steps. Servers 2 and 3 offer the bread of life to those who come forward. Servers 1 and 4 offer the cup of salvation for people to dip their bread into.

Meanwhile server 5 leaves using the nearest side aisle to serve those in the – Narthex, Library, Nursery, Sunday School, etc. then returns via that aisle.

The Pastor and Liturgist are typically first in line to receive communion with the congregation lining up behind them.

After after everyone who is able to come forward has been served:

  • Server 1 and 2 look for those who desire communion brought to them in the pews.
  • Servers 3 and 4 will serve the organist/pianist.

When everyone except the servers have been offered the bread and cup, the servers return to the steps to the served by the Pastor or Liturgist who will return the cups and plates to the communion table.