Communion cups and individualism

Picking up from one or two comments in different places on my previous post: does the use of individual communion cups imply, or support, or strengthen, individualism? My short answer would be: not in British Baptist practice; I simply do not know elsewhere. This answer is based on a couple of convictions. One is that practices are not meaningfully narratable without properly thick description; the other is that I want to interrogate hard what ‘individualism’ means. I will deal with the first here; I might return to the second at some point. On the first: ‘thick description’ (for those who do not know) is a term coined by the anthropologist Clifford Geertz. He argued (roughly) that symbols are only intelligible specifically. That is, to take the case in point,...

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On the use of individual communion cups

There is evidently a fight going on within the Church of England on the potential use of individual communion cups as a Covid-safe way to celebrate the Eucharist. It’s not my fight, and I don’t want to say much about it. But in the last couple of days a new argument has emerged: that the use of individual communion cups is, historically, racist. That does bother me. Each of the five churches I have been a member of have used individual communion cups as a regular part of their sacramental life. This is hardly uncommon in either the English Free Churches, or Scottish evangelicalism—I don’t actually recall the last time I celebrated or received the Eucharist at a church that did not use individual cups (although our collegiate celebrations use a single cup and...

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An all-age communion liturgy/drama

I had to lead an all-age communion service at LPO. (Well, when I say ‘lead’ … Cath and Rach planned and led the worship, including a wonderful, if somewhat destructive, spoken word piece by Cath’s husband Dai; my role was a very brief preach and to celebrate at the table.) I believe in communion liturgy – not that we should use the BCP or the Roman Missal, but that, whatever words we use, there are things that matter, and must find a place: the recollection of the Lord’s institution of the meal; the eucharistic prayer of thanksgiving; the epiklesis, invoking the Spirit ; … In a very informal, and all-age, context, then, thinking about how to celebrate exercised me a little. The tradition of LPO was clearly very inclusive: all would be invited to the table....

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