Communion cup on table

Communion – Are You What You Eat?

Are these little cups of convenience really communion? Or could they be a sign that we have lost site of some things?

Let’s talk about communion elements. This isn’t a talk about what communion is about….just the literal juice and bread. Have you ever tried the “all in one” cup & wafer’? It’s basically a sealed juice cup with a styrofoam’ish wafer in another sealed spot on top. It’s less than awesome. It’s quite a wrestling match to get this little cup opened during communion. If you are successful at getting the wafer out and hold it in your hand, you will be convinced it is just a piece of a styrofoam plate. I understand the convenience these little cups offer; There’s no expiration, they are easy to clean up, and are convenient. Personally, I’m quite thankful that our church in Gaylord uses regular bread during communion.

Ok, enough complaining. On to the point of this post. 🙂

My family and I are in a new area, so we have been looking for a new church to attend. Our most recent visit to a local church was quite different than we expected. We had read about this little church and the great things going on with it, including a vibrant youth group. The pictures showed this church full of people, many youth, and a lot of smiling people.

What we experience was completely opposite. We walked into the church building and were immediately confronted by two ladies for Covid screening. No ‘hello’ or anything. The ladies were quite a bit older than us and wore masks. I thought it was odd, and I’m not real big on participating with any kind of ‘screening’. So we politely said hello and moved on without giving our names.

When we got to the sanctuary, we saw a familiar ‘covid’ scene. Chairs were spread very far apart, nobody sitting or coming close to one another, and masks on everyone. And we also noticed there were only 20 ish people, most of who were quite old. There weren’t any young people at all, much less a vibrant youth group.

Whenever we approached anyone and got within the ‘6-foot social distance zone’, they would back up. Nobody would approach us. Not even to greet us. It was seriously odd and uncomfortable. Shortly after service started, the pastor went on for nearly 5 minutes in several awkward statements regarding CDC guidelines, vaccines, and the church’s desire to comply. If I understood his statements correctly, this was also the first Sunday that this church was ‘allowed to sing.’

My wife was feeling really awkward by now and was giving me the ‘look’. But being a ‘man of adventure’ and a little bit of a trouble maker, I decided we should stay and see what happens. I felt God brought us here for a reason, so I was willing to wait for Him to trot it out.

This must have been communion Sunday as well, because we were each given one of those awful little communion cups. Just after this, Miranda and I both noticed one of the saddest sights I’ve seen. In sections, the altar was pushed up against the wall where it couldn’t be gotten to. It had several signs saying ‘Currently Not In Use. We’d love to hear from you, send your prayer request to this email’. All I could think was, “Wow. Email… how comforting…I wonder if God has a spam folder…”

My family and I left after the service ended and discussed our thoughts on the way home. We all came to the same conclusion that this little church was seriously scared. And we were sad about it. Seeing a traditional biblical instrument of worship, such as the altar, packed away was very disturbing. The altar has always been a place of comfort and worship for Christians and a biblically prescribed place of meeting with God. And in its place was a sign directing people to email their concerns. Am I the only one who finds email to be cold and impersonal for prayer requests? I cannot imagine Jesus ever hanging up a sign telling his children to ’email him’.

Why have some of us become so afraid? Afraid enough to pack away our tools of worship and worship itself. Why have some of us become so afraid that we would rather be alone and separate than gathered with our brothers and sisters? Why have some of us become so afraid that we no longer trust God with our own lives but would rather trust in material things like the ‘CDC’? Why have some of us become so paralyzed by fear? God certainly doesn’t give us a spirit of fear. Quite the opposite, in fact. God tells us repeatedly throughout scripture to be strong and courageous.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

2 Timothy 1:7

The disciples in the Bible were larger than life. And indeed so was Jesus, for obvious reasons. These men went towards danger, towards sickness, towards hurting people, and brought healing, comfort, and company. They healed the sick, raised the dead, confronted powerful rulers, and faced more dangers in a single week than most of us will face in our entire lives. When they had communion together, they had good reason to rejoice with each other and thank God for his provision. Spiritually they ‘lived big’.

Believe it or not, that powerful church is still alive and well today. But many areas have broken off and are no longer representing Christ to the world. The Bible warned us of this in 2 Timothy 3:5, “They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” The church my family and I had just visited had all the components of the real church. And indeed, it looked like the real thing in the pictures. However, it lacked power. His power specifically.

I can’t help but mentally contrast the original communion, with its large wine goblets and torn chunks of bread, to today’s small, convenient, styrofoam wafer cups. It seems to be an appropriate illustration of Christ’s powerful church compared to the powerless one.

“They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.


Regardless of how we feel about the authenticity of this pandemic, we cannot deny that large parts of our country and world are terrified. It is up to the church to step up, step in, and be the usher of Christ’s peace, stability, encouragement, and confidence. And when they ask us why we are not afraid, be ready to give them the reason, Jesus.


2 thoughts on “Communion – Are You What You Eat?”

  1. Crazy, indeed, how churches aren’t “safe”, you can go to a service on YouTube and even Ministers arrested for holding services.
    However, everyone is free to go to big box stores, fast food spots and the only threats to health is Covid – not even the common flu dared showed itself!
    How “they “ were able to successfully brainwash so many is astounding – until you look back into history — and see that it’s happened before.
    God took second place to Fear —— and still does in many cases —-

  2. Suzanne Jackson

    Many churches are using the prepackaged Communion for safety reasons, and only started it with COVID. At our church, if you can only attend online due to your own health concerns, ie: being extremely high risk for death from COVID, a shut-in, etc…, someone can go by during the week and pick up Communion, or the elders can leave them on your porch so that one can feel a bit more like they are participating even though they are online. I think it’s a clever way to keep people involved, and, during the pandemic, to safely offer Communion without anyone touching your elements. As you know, with all the virus mutations, you can be fully vaccinated and have COVID with or without symptoms, and fully vaccinated, you can still carry a very heavy viral load. If you are going to have symptoms, it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to show up. Although I don’t particularly like it for the long term, I do think it serves a legitimate purpose during the pandemic. Just because you aren’t in a high risk group, don’t forget that, “I am my brother’s keeper,” and thus, we all should do what we can so that our high risk brothers and sisters are not put at risk. Personally, I just keep a bottle of grape juice and matzo, and use my own Communion set. I know that our church does not intend to continue using the prepackaged elements once the pandemic is over, and I doubt many/any churches will. It is a small sacrifice to keep our high risk and elderly safe, and I see it as an act of love and inclusion. As for your other thoughts, yes, many big box stores are open, but those who are high risk are ordering groceries online and having them delivered to their porches. You are very fortunate that your family does not have anyone in a high risk group. I have a son with idiopathic pulmonary hypertension. He was born with it, and literally the best specialists in the world do not know why he was born with it, and with no known cause. I also have a daughter whom we adopted out of the NICU. She was a 1 1/2 lb., 26 week old crack and fetal alcohol preemie. She was on a ventilator for 7 1/2 weeks, and thus, has severe lung damage, asthma, and Broncho Pulmonary Dysplasia. As for myself, I am a life-long asthmatic with such severe allergies, I’ve developed hyper-sensitivity pneumonitis, meaning that out of the blue, I have allergic reactions to things that have never bothered me before, concrete dust being one such thing, and I end up hospitalized for up to three months due to severe respiratory issues including pneumonia. This started in 2015. The only clue I had prior to this was that I have anaphylactic reactions to insect stings and bites, and other things, and asthma and allergies. So just in my own home of six, (two adults and four children, three of us have life threatening lung issues. Always remember that though you are very fortunate not to have any issues like this, others do, and many have died because they, or people around them did not take this seriously. I am sorry you had such a bad experience at this church. It sounds like it may not be a friendly church normally, or it could be they have lost congregants to COVID, and feel strongly that they need to do whatever they can to protect their congregations. Who knows? Only God!

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