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Who can take communion?
Thank you for this question about communion.
There are estimated to be around 15,000 different types of true Christian Churches in the world! They can be split into many different categories, but the main three are Protestant (Baptist, Church of England etc), Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox. Each Church may have a different view on who can take communion.
In the Anglican Church, it is officially necessary that to take communion someone must have been baptised in the name of the Trinity (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in any Church, but also should be confirmed as a member of the Church of England. However, clergy generally allow baptised members of other churches to take communion occasionally at least. It would be wise, however, to talk to your Vicar or Church leader about this if you intend worshipping there regularly.
In the Roman Catholic (RC) Church a similar rule applies but is usually more strictly enforced. I expect the Priest will make some kind of clarification to non-Catholics who are present. Some RC priests are more tolerant than others. The RC meaning of communion is different from what is taught in the Protestant Church. However, this is a complex issue so I won't go into detail in this short answer.
What all Christians agree on is that Jesus took bread and wine and gave them a special meaning connected with his broken body and shed blood on the cross. To share the bread and wine is a way of saying to other Christians before God that we truly trust in Jesus' death for us on the cross as the absolute and final answer to our need for God's forgiveness and grace:
And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many". (Mark 14:22)
Taking part in communion, or the Lord's Supper as it is also known, is a sign of being a true believer in Christ because it is an act of obedience to Him. As the Apostle Paul tells us, Jesus commanded his followers to take communion:
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-34)
It would be too complicated to go more deeply into what communion means, but there is one important thing to bear in mind: our own spiritual readiness for taking communion. As Paul goes on to say:
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)
One problem Paul had in mind was a problem which arose because the Church of Corinth celebrated communion during a meal. Some people had plenty to eat while others went hungry, so that instead of the event being a remembrance of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for sinners, it became purely a social occasion where people became greedy, or proud of being more important than others.
The bread and wine are meant to represent our equality at the cross - of all being in the same position as sinners who need God's grace. Today, most churches don't have a meal with communion so our need to come 'worthily' presents a different challenge - to be sure we have definitely repented of our sins and have personally placed our lives in the care of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord; and before coming to the Table to renew that repentance and faith in the light of what we have done since the last time we took communion.
I believe that if you love the Lord Jesus Christ, and you believe his body was broken for you, and his blood shed for you, and you are living a life according to his teaching, then you should take communion with fellow Christians as often as you can, to remember and celebrate the wonderful sacrifice and love for our Lord Jesus.
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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