Why do we pass the peace? How many hands should I shake? The “exchange of peace” is one of the oldest traditions in the Christian church. In biblical times, it included kissing! A simple handshake (or hug, if welcome) will do. Note that this is an important part of the worship; it is not meant as a time for chatting or doing business. We greet one another in the name of Jesus Christ before we share in his holy Meal. How many hands should you shake? As many as you can! If you are worried about sharing germs, you may wave, share the peace sign, or abstain.
Why do we collect an offering? How much should I give? Worship is an encounter with God’s grace. The opportunity to give is gracious, because it is an opportunity to make room in our lives for God to make a home. The story of Jesus Christ is the story of God taking up residence in ordinary life. That includes our pocketbooks, where there is plenty of room for other gods—like greed, anxiety, debt, consumption, or addictions. God reminds us in the Meal—and the offering that prepares for it—that all that we are and have are gracious gifts from the One who wants to live with us and through us. How much should you give? As much as you think you are able, willing, and challenged to give. The Bible suggests 10%, but that’s between you and God.
Who is welcome at the Table? Everyone, without exception. Jesus Christ, present in bread and wine, welcomes and invites all people to the Table—especially children. Some may choose not to commune for a number of reasons, and we respect that choice. If you prefer not to commune, you are welcome to cross your hands over your chest and receive a blessing. If you would like your child, of any age, to receive Communion instruction prior to participating in their first Communion Meal, please talk with the pastor and that will be provided.
Why such a long prayer before we eat? The “Eucharistic Prayer” is a really long Table Grace (eucharist literally means “thanksgiving”). More than that, though, this prayer has many important parts. We give thanks and praise together with the whole church on earth and in heaven (including singing the angels’ song, “Holy, Holy, Holy!”) we remember all the things God has done for our ancestors and for us (most importantly, “the night in which Jesus was betrayed,”) and we invite the Holy Spirit to show up and make this Meal (and those who eat it) holy. Then we finish it all up by praying the prayer Jesus taught us to pray—the Lord’s Prayer—mostly to make sure we didn’t forget anything.
How do we eat? There are a variety of ways to share the Meal. The bulletin should include instructions for the day—and there are ushers and other servers present to assist you if you have any challenges. Both wine and grape juice are always available, as are gluten-free wafers. If you have other dietary restrictions, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you. Sometimes we invite folks to kneel, but you are welcome to remain standing if that is uncomfortable. We can also bring Communion to you at your seat if your mobility is in any way impaired. Just ask an usher!
I have a lot more questions. What should I do? Ask. We are all on the journey of faith together. Chances are, if you have a question, someone else has had or will have it as well. There are no questions too big or too small for the community of believers to wrestle with.