My last post discussed receiving communion by faith, and was more about our understanding of the spiritual aspects of communion.
This post is just plain practical.
We all want to reverently receive communion, not get in anyone’s way or spill anything, and to not have any surprises. But the surprises and spills will happen. Even though we intend to avoid it, be ready for anything, and it’s okay.
How to Receive Holy Communion
Come forward to stand for communion, if there is no altar rail.
If there is a rail, people will usually kneel to receive unless they are physically unable.
Extend your hands
Kneeling or standing, place your hands flat, and in a cruciform shape, palms up, as pictured above.
Receive the bread
The minister will say the words of administration, which often are, “The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven.”
Your response is “Amen.”
You can bow your head if you would like to avoid eye contact, and that is fine.
You can choose to make eye contact, and that is fine as well.
Lift your hands to your mouth (not using your fingers to hold the bread), and eat the bread.
Make the sign of the cross (optional)
Many people make the sign of the cross before receiving each element (the bread and the wine).
Others make the sign of the cross after receiving both elements.
You do not have to make the sign of the cross, and you can make the sign of the cross. This is not a rule, it is a custom.
Receive the wine
Next, a chalice bearer (wine person), will approach. (If you’re kneeling at a rail, that is. If you’re standing, then you should walk over to the chalice bearer.)
This is where you need to be ready. As they approach (or you approach), put out your hands to guide the chalice to your lips, and drink.
The chalice bearer is supposed to keep hold of the chalice with you, so that neither of you spills the wine. However, sometimes they will completely hand you the chalice. Either way, just try to make sure that the chalice doesn’t get dropped.
After drinking, allow the chalice bearer to take the cup back from you.
The chalice bearer will also say the words of administration, which often are, “The Blood of Christ, the Cup of Salvation.” Your response, either before or after drinking, is “Amen.”
What about dipping the bread? This is called “intinction.”
If you choose to do this, or if the church you are in requires it, you receive the bread as stated above. Then, you take the bread between your fingers, and dip it slightly into the wine, before placing it in your mouth.
Receiving a blessing instead of Holy Communion
Adults who are not baptized, or who are not going to receive, can come forward to receive a blessing.
If you would like to do so, cross your arms as pictured below as you approach the minister.
Children receiving Holy Communion
Baptized children are welcomed to receive communion in most churches, but in some they take a preparation class before first communion.
No parent is required to allow their child to receive. If your children are not baptized, or will not be receiving, they can receive a blessing, by crossing their arms as pictured above.
One Last Thing…
After you have received, follow the crowd back to your seat. Most folks will then pray silently, or sing.
Please let us know if you have any questions!
Better yet, please feel free to ask someone at church. I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to guide you.
If you’d like to learn more about Holy Communion, check out the following posts:
- Holy Communion: A Rookie Anglican Guide to the Eucharist, by Joshua Steele
- An Anglican Sunday Worship Service, by Greg Goebel
- Holy Communion, by Greg Goebel
- Why Every Church Should Have Weekly Sunday Communion Like the Anglicans Do, by Greg Goebel
- How to Receive Communion, Pt. 1, by Greg Goebel
This post originally appeared on 2013-06-06. Updated on 2018-10-05.
Greg is the founder of Anglican Compass (previously known as Anglican Pastor). He is an Anglican Priest of the Anglican Church in North America. He served in a non-denominational church before being called into the Anglican church in 2003. He has served as an Associate Pastor, Parish Administrator, and Rector. He currently serves as the Canon to the Ordinary for the Anglican Diocese of the South.