1. What is Holy Communion?
Holy Communion is one of the two sacraments (the other is baptism) set by Jesus Christ for his followers. Its practice is handed down from the first disciples of Jesus to subsequent generations through the Church.
Holy Communion, in form, is a corporate meal shared by Christians. Originally, it consisted of a full meal; but today, it is most widely practised as consisting of the primary elements of bread and wine/juice.
The spiritual significance of the Holy Communion can be understood by the various names that it is called: The Lord’s Supper; the Eucharist; and Holy Communion.
The Holy Communion does not refer merely to the consumption of a special food and drink that has been blessed. It refers to the gathering of the community of believers at Christ’s invitation, around a common table, and the re-presentation of specific sign-actions of Christ – aspects which all come together as a whole in proclaiming the mystery of the gospel of Christ.
2. What is a “sacrament”?
Sacraments are “signs of grace” – events through which we especially recognise and know “God’s good will toward us”, and by which our faith in God is “strengthened and confirmed”
3. Who can take Holy Communion?
These are the words of invitation to the Lord’s Table (i.e. to take Holy Communion) used in our worship service:
Anyone who is willing to affirm these listed desires are welcomed to take Holy Communion in this church.
Everyone who is willing to affirm the above desires are understood to be persons who trust Jesus and want to follow him. If they are not yet baptised Christians, they should move towards baptism as soon as possible.
4. Can I use my own communion elements or conduct Holy Communion for myself, my family or friends?
We refrain from using our own elements or conducting “Holy Communion” without the presence of an elder or authorised celebrant. In the Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS), Holy Communion is “celebrated” (or “presided”) by an ordained elder of the church, or someone who has been given a special authorisation by the Bishop to do so.
While not objecting to the acceptance or encouragement for the use of one’s own elements in other denominations, we refrain from that practice to “minimise abuse and wrong teaching” and to ensure that everything is done with reverence and order.
To give one example, while a personal or private Holy Communion may similarly preserve and convey to us the reality of Christ’s presence with us individually, a corporate Holy Communion conducted by a common authority acknowledged by the church, using the same elements from the same table, preserves and conveys more substantially Christ’s will for our individual communion with him to be translated into communion with one another.
5. What are “consecrated elements”?
To consecrate means to make or declare something sacred. In Holy Communion, consecrated elements refer to the bread and “wine” that has been offered to God for sacred use and have become “for us the body and blood of Christ” as was prayed for God to make them.
In MCS, ordained elders or people specially authorised by the Bishop, are given the privilege, and therefore the responsibility, to consecrate the elements in the Holy Communion ritual.
6. In what way is the consecrated elements the body and blood of Christ?
We do not believe that the elements become flesh and blood in substance (i.e. transubstantiation) because we do not see that idea affirmed in Scripture. We believe that the consecrated elements are special means through which we encounter Christ’s presence now and we share in the body and blood of Christ. For us, “how Christ comes among us during Holy Communion is not as important as the affirmation that he does come to us.”
7. What should I do with unconsumed consecrated Holy Communion elements?
What is done with the remaining elements should express our stewardship of God’s gifts and our respect for the holy purpose they have served.
Where possible, they may be reverently consumed following the service.
Where it is not feasible to consume them, they may be returned to the earth; that is, the bread may be buried or scattered on soil, and the “wine” may be reverently poured out upon soil – a biblical gesture of worship (2 Samuel 23:16).
The principle is ultimately about each acting in good conscience toward God, and not stumbling the faith of fellow Christians.
8. Why do we not use wine in our church’s Holy Communion?
Historically, the beverage used in Holy Communion is wine. However, in the late nineteenth century various Christians denominations observed that the use of alcohol made it difficult for converted recovering alcoholics to be freed from the habit; so as a matter of pastoral concern and solidarity with them in the spirit of Christ’s love, it was opted to replace the wine with unfermented grape juice or a similarly colored juice. The practice has been retained in MCS till today.
9. How should I participate in Holy Communion when I must worship from home through the Internet?
10. What if I do not have the communion elements with me when I am worshipping from home through the Internet in a service celebrating the Holy Communion?
You should still follow along in the worship service and the Holy Communion ritual. Although you will not be able to participate in the action of consuming the elements, your participation in the service and ritual continues to be in the spirit of worship.
Do contact the church to arrange to collect or receive the elements for the next Holy Communion service so that we may together share in Holy Communion with the Lord and with one another.
Key Scripture and References for further reading: