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They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Serve

At Ginter Park Presbyterian Church, the invitation to Communion is a living, breathing, evolving act. Carla makes clear in vivid and thoughtful ways – as both a preacher and teacher – the widely inclusionary quality of the Sprit.  And receiving Communion has been the topic of at least one installment of this very blog.

But what does it mean to serve Communion – to stand as the arms, hands, and voice of the Spirit? Some of our “ruling and teaching” elders graciously offered their thoughts.

I’m going to be honest; the first few times I served Communion, the detail-oriented part of my personality missed the opportunity to appreciate the significance of serving the bread and the cup. Maybe it is because my first communion happened in a Lutheran church where great emphasis was placed on how you held your hands open to receive the host (bread), how you kneeled at the altar–you know, how everything LOOKED.  So, the first few times I served, I worried entirely about the logistics of serving communion at GPPC—how it looked.  One Sunday, though, I really listened to the invitation to the table—ALL are welcome.  It hit me: as long as all who want to be served are served, well, that’s the important “stuff.”  When I let the logistical “stuff” go, I started to appreciate the blessing of serving.  To look someone in the eyes and say “the body of Christ” and “the cup of salvation” for YOU (and for me)—there is something very moving about that.  Some of you might remember that Jesus’ command to Peter to “Feed my sheep” speaks loudly to me.  For me, serving Communion has been an extension of that.  SERVING the body of Christ has become a reminder to me to BE the body of Christ. – Kimberly Carswell

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve thought a lot about how to respond {to this question}.  At first, I was hesitant as I felt this is an extremely personal thing.  Then as I thought more of our call as Elders, I felt charged to share in my commitment to Christ.

The first time I ever served communion by intinction was very recent.  As summer wound down, Roxanne was hard pressed to find willing Elders, so I committed.  

I’ve never felt a greater sense of peace than I did as I stood with the cup, watching each individual dip their bread.  It was humbling to say “the cup of salvation”. Truly one of the greatest blessings I’ve ever experienced at GPPC! – Owen Sharman

From the perspective of an elder seated behind the communion table there is something very powerful and personal about hearing the invitation to the Lord’s Table so physically close to the table itself, so close to the person offering the invitation.  Even I am welcome at the table, even each one of us in the community is welcome. Each of us is charged to celebrate the joyful feast and be changed by it. 

Following the worship service some take communion to those who cannot attend the service.  Many of those with whom we commune are alone and welcome a visit and a chance to hear an abstract of the worship service that day.  How good it is for us to review a scriptures passage, the sermon, the liturgy of communion, sometimes even sing a hymn that has stuck in our heads.  We may hear the stories of the people who are visiting or the stories of those we visit.  Sometimes the person we are visiting shares stories of being a communion visitor herself (Mary Pauli) with the very minister who is serving communion at that moment (John Ensign).  Sometimes the communion liturgy and the elements are reduced to accommodate the needs of the person being served.  As personal as the invitation is in corporate worship, it is more intimate in a home setting.  The words don’t have to be perfect, the serving can be interrupted by a caregiver.  We are connecting with each other, in Christ. – Eleanor Workman

What have you experienced in serving Communion at GPPC?”  Indeed the opportunity to help serve the Lord’s Supper is not just an honor, but it is a an opportunity to proclaim the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, to help those we serve the bread and the wine understand the wonder of what he has done for us.  As servers we are part of the whole Communion service which explains so much of what God has done for us in creation and God’s dealings with his people in history but most of all what God has done by revealing God’s self in Jesus Christ, especially what Jesus did by giving himself to save us from our sins and give us new lives.  As servers we have the wonderful privilege of telling people as we serve them the bread and the wine, “The body of Christ” and “The blood of Christ given for you.”  We have the promise that the Holy Spirit will make these truths real to them and that they will resolve to turn from their sins and live to witness for him to others and serve others in the world around them.  As a member of the body of Christ, his Church, he may call upon you to help serve Communion. – Bill Metzel

If Christ calls upon you to serve Communion at GPPC, it may look a lot like an email from Roxanne. And your experience in answering may be quite like those shared by our friends above – but uniquely yours as well.

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