Intinction vs Tiny Cups in Trays

Posted by Liz Perraud at

If I had felt it appropriate enough and if I had been brave enough, I would have pulled out my phone this morning in worship to take pictures during communion. Though I like the motion and theology of sharing the bread and the wine by passing trays down the pew, there’s something more spiritual and relational to me about going forward to receive the bread and drink from someone holding it in their hand and to look into the eyes of that server.

That’s the way we took communion this morning—by intinction—“the action of dipping the bread in the wine at a Eucharist so that a communicant receives both together.”  I often cry at communion by intinction and rarely feel that swell of emotion passing the tray down the pew. It’s more personal hearing a quiet “bread of life for you” or “cup of salvation for you” and knowing that the “you” is me. And the person in front of me. And the person behind me. And the person not even in the room. It feels more “us-like.” That Jesus did this for all of us. The French use the word “vous” for groups of people and “tu” for one person. What’s the Greek translation of “you” in Luke 22:19 my studied clergy friends? Singular or plural?

Many years ago I had a pastor (a pastor of mine) tell me that communion by intinction is neither theologically nor biblically correct. We had quite the discussion. We’d never done it that way in our church (in this pastor’s tenure at least) and a high school student had made the request for Youth Sunday after having experienced communion that way at the GenOn Youth Summit. The pastor eventually acquiesced. On the advice of another pastor friend I’d asked him how he thought Paul had served communion and finally that gave him pause to think like none of my other arguments did (thank you Thom). Though I’m sure he still didn’t think that it was “right.” Maybe he just caved because a youth was requesting it and somehow that made it different. Sometimes I think I’d like to reopen that discussion. Or maybe I don’t.

Back to my camera this morning.

I would have taken a picture of the young child tearing off a piece of bread while the server leaned down.

I would have taken a picture of our pastor serving communion to our former pastor (not the “theologically and biblically incorrect” one) and behind him in line a retired pastor who attends our church and preaches often.


I would have taken a picture of the couple serving communion together, one holding the bread wrapped in a white cloth and the other the cup of juice. And then serving one another after all others had been served. And a picture of our pastor and his wife doing the same.

I would have taken a picture of the young adult in line who grew up in our church and was back visiting his parents. Loved that bow tie.

I would have taken a picture of the mix of ages serving the elements (spanning from about 16 to 66 is my best guess).

Maybe that’s why I like intinction best. I can see the community better.


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