Most of our services are based around Holy Communion. In some churches this is also called eucharist (Greek for thanksgiving) and the Lord’s Supper. I think of the service as more than thanksgiving, although I appreciate the verb was used by Jesus, “Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks (εὐχαριστήσας) he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it.” (Mark 14.23)
I think of the Lord’s Supper as that service we remember on Maundy Thursday. It was when Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples.
For me Holy Communion is right term as it is the time I recall quietly and privately at reception the sacrifice made by Jesus for me on the cross and think on his return. I appreciate the words, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
Anglicans consider Holy Communion to be one of the sacraments of the Church. The bread and wine are considered outward symbols of an inward and spiritual grace received by the faithful as the instruments of God's grace.
We tend to use the term altar a lot. Altars are places where sacrifices are offered and yet at a service of Holy Communion I think of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. His death was once for all time. Yet I know that many will talk about the sacrifice of our worship and we often say, “Father we offer ourselves as living sacrifices …”
As a boy I attended a Norman church and the altar was a most elaborate altar with the most extravagant cloths laid over it. Underneath was a simple pine trestle table. Nothing could have been more simple! Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, father of the Reformation in England, stated that Holy Communion should be conducted on a board with a fair linen cloth on it. No mention of altar.
So, here are some of my thoughts around Holy Communion. What are yours? You might like to share them with those near you.
All Souls Sandringham