EXPLANATION OF COMMUNION CHANGE

SECOND PASTORAL STATEMENT

On the first day of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal….While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.   MATTHEW 26: 17-19; 26-30

As our Lord prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice of his life for our sins on Calvary, he had one last meal before his death with his disciples. That last meal was the celebration of the Jewish Passover. Among other food items that meal consisted essentially of lamb, unleavened bread, wine, and bitter herbs. According to the word of God, during this last Supper, our Lord changed the meaning of the meal to a commemoration of his sacrifice on Calvary. The bread became the representation of his body and the wine became the symbol of his blood.    Since that moment, we Christians throughout the ages have remembered the sacrifice of our Lord using such names as Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, and the Eucharist. Throughout the ages, Christians have used consecrated bread and wine, which were the original elements set aside and consumed by our Lord and his disciples in remembrance of his sacrifice on Calvary. This practice of using the original elements consecrated and consumed by our Lord and his disciples continued throughout the world for centuries until the early 1800’s when an ordained Wesleyan Methodist minister by the name of Thomas Welch began to experiment with the pasteurization process that prevented the natural fermentation of grapes. The reason for this experimentation was his objection of the use of wine for Holy Communion even though it had been the practice of the Church throughout the world for 1800 years. The results of his efforts were the

adoption of the use of grape juice or unfermented wine by a number of churches, particularly here in America and the founding of the Welch’s grape juice company, which was developed by his son Frank into the major industry that it is today.  While we recognize and respect the sincerity of Reverend Welch, this pastor believes that the Lord’s Supper should be celebrated by using the original elements that were consecrated and consumed by the Lord and his disciples and the vast majority of Christians throughout the world for centuries. Therefore, beginning with the Communion service on Holy Thursday, April 5, 2012, and every communion service thereafter under this pastoral administration, the original elements of consecrated bread and wine, will be served during our regular observance of the Lord’s Supper.  We recognize that wine may be a challenge for some persons who may approach the communion table, such as individuals who are being delivered from substance abuse and are in the midst of recovery, or others who are on medication and are concerned about the effects of the small amount of wine in the glass on their health. We also respect the feelings of certain parents regarding their children receiving consecrated wine. These persons may quietly and respectfully request grape juice when they kneel at the communion table and it will be served to them without question.  Others of us should remember that the wine served is consecrated wine and “What God has made clean, you must not call profane [or common].” (Acts 10: 15, NRSV). Secondly, we should be mindful that none of us is more righteous or holier than that which has been consecrated in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Third, we are to remember that Holy Communion is the Lord’s Supper and he is the host. We are only guests at his table. As the host of the meal, our Lord picks the menu, not the guests.   

 Finally, we should remember the prayer of humble access that is offered as we consecrated Holy Communion, “We do not presume to come to this your table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather the crumbs under your table. But you are the same Lord who property is to always have mercy. Grant us therefore gracious Lord, so to

eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood that our sinful souls and bodies may be made clean by his death and washed through his blood and that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us.” AMEN!  AMEN!! And, AMEN!!!