In the United Methodist Church, we believe that the Lord's table is open to all who come. We have Holy Communion during our morning worship services on the first Sunday of every month. On this same Sunday in the afternoon, our Home Communion Team takes Communion out to our homebound members. We also serve communion during special Holy days, such as Ash Wednesday. On Christmas Eve, we have a 5:30 pm and 9:00 pm Candlelight Service with Communion.
Holy Communion is one of the two sacraments of the Christian faith. It is in this sacrament that we remember the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, celebrate His continuing presence within the church, and anticipate the heavenly banquet where we will be joined together in Christ.
At Covington First UMC, we serve the Eucharist by “intinction,” which is the act of dipping the bread into the consecrated wine, so that the communicant receives both together. It is also considered proper to simply touch the side of the cup with the bread. We have gluten-free wafers available on the left-hand side of the sanctuary for those who have a bread allergy.
Some of the reasons to serve Communion by intinction are:
Biblical - It is consistent with the Biblical witness about the way Jesus may have celebrated the Last Supper. (Matthew 20:23-27)
Traditional - The method we use now has more historical ties to the longer history of the Christian faith and the Apostolic church.
Ecumenical - In the long-standing United Methodist tradition of fellowship with other denominations (like having an open table at Communion), intinction is more like the celebrations in other branches of the Christian faith.
Symbolic - The symbolism of the loaf and cup speak to our theological understandings of the unity of the two natures of Christ and the unity of the Body of Christ in the church. Practically speaking, communion by intinction is more sanitary, and it allows for more flexibility as people are free to kneel or not at the altar rail.
When we gather at the Lord’s Table we partake of a grace that is so deep that it overcomes our human differences and binds us together in the unity of the spirit that is too great for words. We feel the love and community of being one with the body of Christ. That’s the heart of communion and the heart of worship at Covington First UMC.
Why do United Methodists call this sharing of bread and cup by different names, such as Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, and Eucharist?
Each of these names is taken from the New Testament and highlights certain facets of this sacrament’s many meanings. Calling it the Lord’s Supper reminds us that it is a meal instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ and hosted by Him at his table whenever it takes place. Calling it Holy Communion reminds us that it is an act of the most holy and intimate sharing, making us one with Jesus Christ and part of His body, the church. Calling it the Eucharist, a term taken from the New Testament Greek word meaning thanksgiving, reminds us that giving thanks to God for all that God has done is an essential part of the meal. By using different names we acknowledge that no single name can contain the rich wealth of meanings in this sacred act.
What do United Methodists mean when they call this act a sacrament?
Our Confession of Faith states: “We believe the sacraments, ordained by Christ, are symbols and pledges of the Christian’s profession and of God’s love toward us. They are means of grace by which God works invisibly in us, quickening [bringing to life], strengthening and confirming our faith in him. Two Sacraments are ordained by Christ our Lord, namely Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.” The term is taken from the Latin sacramentum, which was a Roman soldier’s pledge of allegiance. A sacrament is God‘s pledge of allegiance [love and faithfulness] to us, and our answering pledge of allegiance to God.
Do United Methodists believe that the bread and wine physically or chemically change into Christ’s flesh and blood in this sacrament?
No, we believe that the change is spiritual. They signify the body and blood of Christ for us, helping us to be Christ’s body in the world today, redeemed by Christ’s blood. We pray over the bread and the cup that they may make us one with Christ, “one with each other, and one in service to all the world.”
I am a Christian, but not a United Methodist. Am I allowed to receive Communion in a United Methodist church?
Yes, indeed. It is the Lord’s Supper, not ours, and it is Christ who invites you. As our ritual puts it: “Christ our Lord invites to His table all who love Him, who earnestly repent of their sins and seek to live in peace with one another.” We do not refuse any who present themselves desiring to receive. Whether you should receive Communion with us is between you and God.
I do not wish to receive Communion because doing so would be disloyal to my religion or my denomination. May I attend a United Methodist Communion service and not receive Communion?
Yes, certainly. We do not want anyone to feel unwelcome because, for whatever reason, they do not choose to receive Communion. Simply remain seated when others go forward, and no one will question what you do.
Should I receive Communion if I feel unworthy?
Two thousand years ago Jesus ate with sinners and those whom others scorned. He still does. None of us is worthy, except by God’s grace. Thankfully we don’t have to earn worth in God’s eyes by our goodness or our faith. Your sacred worth, and ours, is God’s free gift. No matter what you have done or what your present condition, if you want Christ in your life you are welcome at His table. Communion provides the opportunity for you to confess your sins, to receive forgiveness, and to indicate your intention to lead a new life.
May young children receive Communion?
Yes, as The United Methodist Book of Worship puts it, “All who intend to lead a Christian life, together with their children, are invited to receive the bread and cup.” We remember that when some of Jesus’ disciples tried to keep children away from him he said: “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14).
But do young children know what they are doing when they receive Communion?
Do they understand the full meaning of this holy sacrament? No, and neither do any of us. It is a wonderful mystery, and children can sense wonder and mystery. Children cannot understand the full significance of family meals, but we feed them at our family tables and at Christ’s family table. Young children experience being loved by being fed. They sense the difference between being included and excluded at a family meal. They have the faith of a child, appropriate to their stage of development, which Jesus recognized and honored. Indeed, he said to adults: “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15).
May I receive Communion without standing or kneeling?
In some United Methodist congregations persons receive Communion while kneeling, while in others they receive while standing; at Covington First we stand to receive the sacrament, but you are always welcome to receive communion while seated. If others are kneeling at the rail to pray, you may stand there to pray, or return to your seat. You may also come forward and be seated on the front row, or come forward in your wheelchair, and you will be served. Or you may notify an usher, and someone will come to you and serve you where you are seated.
Is Communion possible at weddings, at healing services, or at funerals or memorial services?
Yes. If you wish to arrange this, please speak with our pastor.