There are few things better than sharing a meal amongst friends. At its best, breaking bread together with friends can lift our hearts to a place of thanksgiving both for the food we eat, the person who made it, and for the fellowship we have with those we love.
When we gather in church on Sundays we take part in just such a meal, but it is so much more than that. Holy Communion - also called the Eucharist - is a strange kind of meal. On the one hand, when bread is broken and wine poured it recalls us to that night when Jesus shared the same with his disciples, the very first Eucharist, recalling that when he broke and offered the bread and shared the wine, he gave it to them saying, "take, eat, this is my body...this is my blood..."
When we come to church and receive communion we are not simply eating a piece of bread and taking a sip of wine to symbolize Jesus' sacrifice, we are receiving the Lord Himself. When we receive communion in faith we receive nothing less than Jesus' body and blood.
But Eucharist is a word which means thanksgiving, and that is exactly what Communion is. We come each Sunday and offer to the Lord bread and wine, things which human hands have made, as an offering of thanksgiving for all that God has given us, but through God's abundant grace those simple elements become more than they could ever be were it up to us. When we make an offering and sacrifice to God, even of unleavened bread and wine, we receive back from God so much more.
Even in this small detail is a lesson - when we offer ourselves to God's service it is often the case that we, through God's work, become far more than we could ever otherwise be.
The celebration of Holy Communion on Sundays is the central act of worship for our parish, around which all else turns, and so each service acts as a kind of preparation for receiving communion. We offer praise in our worship and singing, we hear scripture readings that remind us of the great works God has wrought for us, we confess our sins and cleanse our consciences, and we offer prayers for all those who suffer.
It can be good to spend time each week preparing to receive communion on Sunday - think about the past week, are there things for which you need to seek forgiveness, burdens you need to let go of, or things you need to change about yourself? We prepare ourselves so that we can not be lacking for joy and thanksgiving on Sunday when we receive the eucharist.
The Anglican Church of Canada welcomes anyone who is baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Spirit), and who is a communicant member of their own denomination (you needn't be Anglican to receive!) to approach the rail and receive communion each Sunday.
If you are visiting and are unsure about how to receive, or wish to talk to the Rector ahead of time please don't hesitate to get in touch.