We believe that when we celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus is present with us in a particular, tangible way. In the sacrament, we experience our union with Jesus by hearing the Word and eating bread and drinking wine. This is why the Eucharist is so important and central to us. We do it just as Christians have done for almost 2,000 years, because Jesus commanded us continually to do it.
The climax of the Eucharistic liturgy is when we come to the altar and receive the bread and wine which has become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, thus strengthening our unity with Christ that we may be transformed, as the bread and wine has been transformed. Most visitors who are not Episcopalians wonder whether it is permitted to join us at the altar for this sacrament.
All are welcome to come to the altar and receive the body and blood of Christ at communion. Christ is the host of this meal. It is not required that you be an Episcopalian, or that you be a member of St. Paul’s.
To receive communion, come forward with the people at the words, “The gifts of God for the people of God.” Stand or kneel at the altar rail. Hold out your hands with the palms upward, right on top of left. When the priest places the bread or host on your palm, eat it with reverence. When the chalice bearer comes to you with the wine, gently take hold of the cup at the base and guide it to your mouth. As you receive the sacrament, you might pray silently something like, “Whatever you give me, Lord, I humbly receive, and I offer you all that I am and all that I have.”
Those who wish to receive communion but are unable to come forward due to health constraints need simply to notify an usher to have communion brought to them.
If you are allergic to wheat products, gluten-free communion bread is available. Please let your request be known to the priest as they approach you.
If you prefer, you may receive the wine “by intinction.” When the bread is placed on your palm, leave it there. When the chalice bearer comes to you, he or she will pick up the bread from your palm, touch it to the surface of the wine, place it in your mouth and say: “The Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.” It is not necessary to receive wine at communion, if it would not be appropriate for you. Those who do not wish to receive wine fold their arms across their chest after receiving the bread.
If you are uncertain about receiving the bread and wine, you are welcome to come to the altar for a blessing. To signify to the priest that you do not wish to receive communion, fold your arms across your chest in an “X.” The priest will lay his or her hand on your head gently, and quietly ask God to bless you.