Anybody can celebrate communion. When Jesus celebrated what we now call the Last Supper with his disciples, they were told simply to do this every time they gathered in his name.
He didn’t say they had to be ordained. In fact, Jesus didn’t ordain anybody. He said that to call anybody teacher or Rabbi or Father is to take away from God’s authority.
Jesus came to level the playing field. Jesus makes us all equal.
When I celebrate Communion, I use matzo and kosher grape juice. Both can be purchased at your local grocery store, in the Jewish section.
Communion is a shortened version of the Passover meal, which is a bigger version of the weekly Sabbath meal.
At the Sabbath meal, Jews use challah, a braided egg bread. It is a yeast bread. During the Passover meal, they use matzo, “the bread of affliction”. It is flat and hard. It is a bit like a cracker. It does not have yeast in it, so it doesn’t rise. It is to remind them that their ancestors didn’t have time to let the bread rise when they escaped from Egypt. It is also to remind them of the manna from heaven that God provided for them while they were wandering in the desert for 40 years.
Matzo closely resembles the texture of communion wafers. Or rather, communion wafers are like matzo. It is supposed to be the same thing. Sadly, standard communion wafers don’t look like matzo at all, so Christians don’t see the connection. Nor are we taught it. None of this is a secret, but it isn’t advertised either.
I use kosher grape juice rather than wine because I might have someone there who is in recovery. It is really important for me to include everyone. If I use wine, then those people who cannot have wine are left out. That isn’t right.
I have been to a number of church services that used wine and the priest spelled it out. S/he would say that they used real wine, and that if you couldn’t have wine, to cross your arms over yourself so that the chalice bearer would pass you by. The priest said that you got the full benefit of communion without both elements.
I was a chalice bearer, and that is an awkward moment. Everybody gets wine, except one person. That makes that one person stick out. Their inability to have wine is now essentially public knowledge. It is shameful and embarrassing for them. Something that should be private now isn’t.
There was also a problem at my old church with young children drinking from the chalice. The rule in that denomination was that if you were baptized, you could take communion. They practiced infant baptism. You get the picture. Some children were sucking up the wine like it was Kool-aid.
It all made me think. To use wine is to exclude. To use wine is to cause problems.
I don’t know what makes kosher grape juice kosher, but it sure tastes good, and it comes in a glass bottle. I like that better than plastic. I’m sure I could use standard grape juice but this seems more appropriate.
I put out the matzo, unbroken, on top of a small dish. I pour the grape juice in a cup, half full. I want to make sure everybody has enough, but not make them feel overwhelmed. I pour it at the beginning of the service so that it has a chance to get to room temperature. It is important that people see there is enough for them, but it is also important to finish it off at the end. It can’t be poured back into the container, and it is impolite to pour it down the drain. More on that later.