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Communion By Extension

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					                                Communion By Extension

We salute one another with a kiss when we have ended the prayers. Then is brought to the president of
the brethren bread and a cup of water and wine. And he takes them and offers up praise and glory to the
Father of all things, through the name of his Son and of the Holy Ghost, and gives thanks at length that
we are worthy of these things at his hand. When he has completed the prayers and thanksgiving, all the
people present assent by saying Amen. Amen in the Hebrew tongue signifies ‘so be it’. When the
president has given thanks and all the people have assented, those who are called deacons with us give
to those present a portion of the Eucharistic bread and wine and water, and carry it away to those who
are absent.
                                                                       Justin (c150), Apology, I 65 – 67


Background and History

Holy Communion by extension has been part of the practice of the church since the
very earliest times. This practice has been used in the Episcopal Church in Scotland
and in other parts of the Anglican Communion for a long time, but not until recently
in England or Australia. The protocols that follow are consistent with the protocols of
the Provinces of Canterbury and York.

Our Lord asked his disciples to remember him in the breaking of the bread. The Book
of Common Prayer indicated that Holy Communion should be a weekly experience
for Christians. The “Parish Communion” movement and a fresh interest in liturgy
have made the Eucharist central to Anglican worship, yet not all congregations have
access to a priest on a weekly basis. Add to that, a deepening sense of isolation in
daily life, but a growing sense of community within the church.

Description of the Service

This new service; “A Service of Worship, Word and Prayer with Holy Communion by
Extension” is a way of responding to these trends in a manner that incorporates many
centres and people within one Parish.

In this service the consecrated bread and wine is taken by a Deacon or licensed lay
person from the main Eucharist in the Parish to other centres and other people so that
they “may share in the communion of the body and blood of Christ.” In the service
they experience the same readings, share in prayers, often hear read the same sermon
as delivered in the Parish Church, and take from the same broken bread and poured
wine.

This service emphasises that those who receive Holy Communion in another centre or
in the Nursing Home or in bed are part of the one Body of Christ. They are
remembered in the Parish Eucharist. This service gives real value to those who are
licensed to take Holy Communion because they go as ambassadors of Christ and of
that gathered community.
Theological Reflection

Following the death and resurrection of Jesus and the birth of the Church, the
fledgling Christian community began to transform and renew the festivals of the Old
Covenant. Worship began in the synagogues, but, as Jesus predicted, they were soon
thrown out the synagogues, and a very uneasy relationship existed between this new
sect and the orthodox Jewish Community. At the heart of the tension lay the new
community’s belief that in the dying of Jesus, the Passover lamb had been sacrificed,
and in his rising he remained constantly with his people. (They met him in the
breaking of the bread). So central was this theme to the new Christian Community
that their celebration, (Eucharist), celebrated on the first day of the week, became the
sacrament of unity for God’s new creation, the fellowship of believers in Christ. The
celebration of the Passover required a sacrificial lamb. The new community had no
need of a lamb, the Risen Lord was that Lamb. However, the bread remained a
continuing sign of God’s provision and grace. At the conclusion of the Passover, the
leavened bread continued their fellowship until next Passover, when the cycle was
again broken, to allow for a new beginning.

Consistent with this principle, the Church, having celebrated the offering of the
Passover lamb with the broken Bread (and the blessed wine) on its Sabbath (Sunday),
shares that broken bread (by extension) with all members of its community until the
following week.

Practical considerations

So when we celebrate the Eucharist at the Parish Church we include in the prayers,
statements and our intention, the centres and people to which the sacrament will be
taken. These other centres and people are included in our arrangements for pastoral
care even if the priest is not able to be there on a Sunday.

This service of Holy Communion by extension has a consistent theology. It is
significantly different to simply reserving the sacrament for future use. It is an
intentional way of drawing a parish together as a shared and untied community of
faith.

The Ministry Unit should provide appropriate vessels and boxes or carry bags. All
containers, together with Pattern and Chalice should be scalded before use. Under no
circumstances should folk use their own vessels and under no circumstances must the
elements be transported or administered from pottery or other porous material. A
fresh linen cloth should always be used for wiping of the chalice in its administration;
under no circumstances are tissues to be used.

The elements should be wafers and fortified wine.

All elements must be consumed at the conclusion of the act of extended communion.
Under no circumstances are elements to be “left over” for a future service. If
insufficient elements are set aside, the bread may be further broken and water may be
added to the wine.




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Authorisation

A request to offer Communion by Extension must come from a meeting of the
recipient congregation and confirmed by resolution of the decision making body of
the Ministry Unit. This decision, together with the names and application for licence
of those person(s) intended to lead this worship must be sent to the Bishop for his
consideration. Permission will lapse after three years unless renewed. Such
permission should always be considered provisional, with a celebration of Holy
Communion by a priest considered the norm and taking place as frequently as
possible. No one is to lead a service of Holy Communion by Extension without
appropriate authorisation. Authorisation will be given to a Deacon or an
appropriately licensed layperson. Vesture appropriate to the service of extended
communion should be worn.

The service of Communion by Extension makes it clear that it is not in itself a
celebration of Holy Communion and yet enables a worshipping community to
participate in Holy Communion ‘by extension’. When introduced to a congregation
care should be taken to explain the close relationship between the two services, there
is but one celebration of Holy Communion, from which the consecrated elements are
brought. The priest presides over the whole community. Communion by extension is
an extension of this presidency.

The form of service used should be authorised by the Bishop. There should be a
number of versions of the service with extended communion. Those in nursing homes
often need a service they can follow closely [not leaving out sections], while those
who are very ill may need an even shorter service. It is not acceptable to use the
service of Holy Communion from APBA, leaving out words of absolution,
consecration and blessing. There will normally be a sermon, but in the case of
communion with the sick, or elderly, a short reflection will normally follow the Bible
Reading. (Several templates can be found in the Pastoral Guidelines).

Explanatory notes

The service begins with a quotation from St Mark’s Gospel on the last supper. The
words of the last supper give a context for the service. Having the description at the
beginning as a reading gives both the context and a reminder of what we celebrate in
this service without the appearance of any form of consecration.

The second paragraph reflects the opening words of Morning or Evening prayer in the
C of E and contains a clear description of the service in which people are about to
participate. It ends with the use of 1 Corinthians 11.26.

The Prayer of Preparation follows and a response by the minister in words which give
the ground of forgiveness reflecting John 3.16.

The prayer of the day, a Gospel reading and the intercessions are integral to the
ministry of Word and Sacrament.




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The words introducing the Peace again link carefully to the sending, celebrating
congregation. The phrase “on this day” could be changed, but reflects the ideal that
communion by extension should take place as close as possible in time to the actual
celebration. There is no fraction in this service as “that as dominical act would only be
proper in a full celebration of the Eucharist”. However, it succinctly reminds us of the
unity of those who by sharing these elements participate together in the Holy
Communion.

The readings suggested at this point are in addition to those used earlier in the service.
Some of them are a little long, but they are intended to “give some weight to the
content of the Liturgy of the Sacrament, yet in such a way as to clearly differentiate it
from a full celebration of the Eucharist”. Again these readings [as with all the service
so far] should take place away from the table and certainly not with the minister
standing behind it.

The preparation for receiving the sacrament is through the traditional prayer of
Humble Access.

Only at this point does the minister go to the table on which the elements have been
placed and using words from the Church of England Communion for the sick invites
those present to receive the sacrament.

The service concludes with the Lord’s Prayer in its traditional form, with a final
prayer and the Grace.




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