Equipped for service: Intinction

Image result for intinctionDuring the months of July and August we will be practicing what is known as “intinction.” Intinction is the action of dipping the bread in the wine at Holy Communion so that a communicant receives both together.

Since Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19) most of the Church has celebrated the Lord’s Supper (also called communion, the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Altar) as an integral part of every worship gathering (Acts 2:42-47; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34). Over the last 500 years some Protestant churches have it less often due to a different understanding of the Lord’s Supper. In our congregation we celebrate the Lord’s Supper almost every Sunday because we believe that in the bread and wine Christ comes to assure us of our forgiveness through the promise of His word: “This is my body/blood given for you for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:26-29). We need this weekly Gospel assurance.

How communion was exactly done at that first supper with Christ is a matter of debate and speculation. We do know that it involved bread and wine. The earliest traditions of the Church focus on the singular nature of the bread and wine (held in one cup).

However, Protestants over the last 150 years have given birth to all kinds of variations in communion: grape juice, individual glasses, pouring chalices and different kinds of bread. In our congregation we normally offer wine, grape juice, the common cup, individual glasses, rice wafers and wheat wafers. Such variety can have the unintended affect of water ingdown the unity of one bread and one cup.

Intinction is simply one form of serving and receiving the bread and wine. With many people away during the summer intinction allows us to need fewer assistants for communion and to emphasize again our unity in Christ.

In this form of communion the pastor distributes the bread (wafer) and says to you, “The body of Christ given for you.” You receive it with open hands and respond, “Amen,” which means, “This is most certainly true.” The assistant then brings the cup and while you dip half the wafer in the wine says to you, “This is the blood of Christ shed for for you.” You say “Amen” and consume it.

“Blood of Jesus”…We say the “body/blood of Christ” rather than “the body/blood of Jesus” for a couple of reasons. First, Jesus is a very common name even today. Which Jesus are you talking about if you use this name? Since in this meal we celebrate what Jesus has done as our Saviour (which is what “Christ” means) it is more appropriate to say, “This is the body/blood of Christ…”

What if I’m allergic to the bread or wine? First, if you are highly allergic you can choose to receive only the bread or the wine and know that you have received the fullness of Christ’s promise in one element. If you are hyper-allergic to the bread and need to receive the wine by drinking, simply wait to commune near the end. Second, most people are not highly allergic and the small amount of bread or wine will not adversely affect you. If you prefer not to receive the wine though, when the cup comes to you make the motion of dipping, receive the words and then consume the bread.

What if I forget and eat my bread before the cup comes? Don’t panic. Receive the blessing of the cup and let it pass.

Communing with our Lord and with one another is a wonderful expression of being the body of Christ. May God continue to bless you with forgiveness, life and salvation as you come in faith to receive the gift of Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper.