There are a variety of ways that churches do communion. I have spent my entire life in the United Methodist church and we typically do communion once a month. In all of the communion services I have participated in, we have always gone to the front of the church to be served. Beyond that, there are many ways that churches serve the bread and wine. The United Methodist churches that I have gone to always use grape juice, many times served in the miniature shot glasses (I’m sure there is an official term for these but this is what I have always called them). These glasses were actual glass in the church I grew up in and had to be cleaned between uses. They also used broken up saltine crackers for the bread. I remember our church upgrading to the communion crackers (comedian Dane Cook refers to them as Jeez its) and eventually using disposable shot glasses.
One method we used often in church where I attend is called intinction. This is where we use a loaf of bread and cup of juice. The person taking communion breaks off a piece of the bread. Then they dip the bread in the juice and eat it. There is usually one person holding the bread and another holding the cup. There are specific issues that can come up using this method. Some people will get huge chunks of bread. This is not a problem unless you under estimated how much bread you needed (I have never been in a service where we ran out). Some people will tear off a piece so small, it is impossible to dip in the juice without getting your fingers wet. Some people will even dunk the large portions to their first knuckle. You can have the people holding the bread break off pieces for the people they are serving to better control the size. The people holding the cup can drop it down when people decide to practice deep sea diving with their fingers on Sunday morning. Our church was not doing these things when the following story happened.
Years ago, I was assisting a pastor during a communion service where we were using intinction. He was holding the bread and I had the cup. One of the first people in line this Sunday was a young girl. Like many of the kids, she grabbed a huge piece of bread. The piece she got was all out of the center of the Hawaiian bread we were using. There was no crust on this piece. It was relatively round and looked to be slightly smaller than a tennis ball. I don’t know how she managed to do this but it looked like there was just a little crumb between her fingers and this ball of bread hanging down like a Christmas tree ornament. She brought this bread to the cup and pushed it into the cup pretty far. Her fingers didn’t go into the juice, but the bread was thoroughly soaked. When she pulled the bread out of the cup, the sound of the juice draining off of it was loud enough to drown out the music from the piano that was playing softly. The pastor, her parents and I were all staring at the juicy bread wondering if she was going to make it any further with the bread. That little crumb that she was holding appeared to be defying the laws of physics. It was at this point the girl decided to shake the excess juice off of the bread. The wiggle in her wrist was more than the bread could take and I successfully caught the bread ball in the cup. All of the adults were not able to respond fast enough to keep this girl from quickly reaching into the cup with her bare hand, scooping up the bread and popping it into her mouth.
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