need advice/thoughts from regular church goers re: Communion (long, sorry)(31 Posts)
I'm trying to make sense of a lot of things that don't make much sense at the moment, so apologies for the long and rambling nature of this post 😳.
Background: I was brought up in a very church-going household (unhealthily so, IMHO, church ranking above all else). At the age of 10 I began to feel very clearly that there was no such thing as God. I was forced to go to church though until I 'grew out of' thinking like that. At 16 I refused point blank to go and have barely set foot in a church since other than the occasional school function and funeral.
However in the last 2/3 years I've really started to waver in my beliefs and feel like I really want to go to church to try to make sense of things. I'm far from sure that there is a God but I'm certainly no longer sure that there isn't. I feel like I need to listen to what is being said and make my own mind up.
However, I feel very uncomfortable with certain aspects of church services. I don't like saying the Lords Prayer because I'm not sure that I believe what I'm saying and I don't fully understand the need to say it out loud. I really don't feel comfortable with Communion because I'm not at peace with God. I'm also not 100% sure if I can receive it anyway as I've not been christened?
What I'm wondering is what other members of the congregation will think if I don't go for communion? Will it be awkward and will I feel pressured into doing something which I don't want to do? I know I could go along with it for an easy life but I find feel true to myself doing that.
I have mentioned to a couple of friends who are church goers that I don't want to take communion but I haven't said why (although I would be happy to tell them, just not explaining myself to strangers).
It is a village church where everyone knows everyone.
I think you're in a very unusual situation to have been brought up in a church-going household but not to have been christened / baptised. Could you talk to your vicar? I think communion rules have relaxed a lot in recent years at many churches.
I mean that lots of people go up for communion who aren't christened, and lots don't go up who are.
Sorry. It's too late at night...
I'm CofE and at my church the notes say you can receive communion if you're baptised and confirmed, which I am.
My dh is baptised but not confirmed and goes up for a blessing.
There are plenty of people who attend regularly and do not go up. When the warden comes around and offers you the chance to go up, just say no thank you. They shouldn't bat an eyelid.
My vicar's opinion is that everyone is on a journey with respect to God and we are all at different points in that journey. He is happy to have anyone in the room regardless of where they are in that journey. You don't have to say anything out loud you are not comfortable with.
Hopefully you have a nice welcoming church to attend and you can see how you feel about it all.
Normally, the vicar will tell people that they are welcome to take communion if that is their normal practice. Others will go up and keep their hands down and the vicar will just bless them. Others don't go for communion at all. No one will judge you either way.
Have a word with the vicar and see if they are running any kind of intro to Christianity course. It might help you know where you stand on issues you are finding difficult.
My mother has always been a Methodist. My father was brought up as Catholic but moved over to the Methodists at some point during my early years. I was never baptised because the two sides of the family couldn't agree and, although I might be wrong on this, membership of the Methodist church as an adult is considered more important (like a christening for adults iirc?). I could have that totally wrong 🤔.
The church I want to go to is C of E. I could never go to a Methodist Church again because it has too many painful associations for me.
The blessing has been mentioned. I don't really feel comfortable with that either. It sounds a bit daft, but I feel like I'm not worthy and am being punished/challenged at the moment for some of the things I've done or thought.
I don't know anything about Methodist churches, sorry OP
I am a bit worried that everyone will be judging me, even though I know that shouldn't matter at all.
You definitely won't be the only one not going for communion/keeping your hands down and getting the blessing instead. Lots of people are on different stages of a journey. my husband only comes occasionally (under duress) doesn't sing any songs or say any prayers and definitely doesn't go for communion. Nobody bats an eyelid or asks any questions at all. Especially if you are a new face. Even fully paid up believers can get shy in a new church. You should definitely go. It's important to explore this stuff.
My church is a friendly Anglican C of e church...
What I'm wondering is what other members of the congregation will think if I don't go for communion?
No one will bat an eyelid.
Will it be awkward and will I feel pressured into doing something which I don't want to do?
No and no. Before people become Christians lots of them come to church to find out what they believe and if they want to put their trust in Jesus. You don't have to be a fully signed up Christian to come-there isn't an entrance exam and I'm sure people will be pleased to meet you and friendly. I'd totally respect your judgement in not wanting to be hypocritical and take part in a ceremony you're not sure about.
Thank you, this is all really helpful and encouraging.
From my perspective, I don't give any thought whatsoever to people not going up for communion. I just don't wonder about it at all.
And honestly, no one will be judging you! Why would they? If you get some looks it'll only be people checking the new person out. The God I know loves and values us all and also doesn't hold grudges. No one is unworthy, regardless of their past. Coming to God should be a release and a freedom, not a burden, and if anyone makes you feel that way then they are not people you need to know.
Well I go to a Methodist Church (and it sounds like you won't be ) but in our Church, "Anyone who loves the Lord" is welcome to take Communion - there is no barrier of baptism, membership, or denomination. So, from the Church's pov you would be very welcome, as and when you wanted to.
However, if you don't want to, you can either have a blessing from the minister, or not - just a little shake of your head when invited to go up for communion, or, when the bread and wine are brought out to the congregation, just pass it on to the next person without taking any. Again no problem. No-one will take any notice nor make any judgement.
Equally, no problem with not saying any prayer or response - I doubt anyone would even notice, but even if they did, no-one would think anything of it. Prayer is a very personal thing.
Not been in a Methodist service but even at a Catholic Church I've never noticed if someone does or does not receive communion. Ditto joining in prayers. Faith is too personal to judge others'.
No one will care if you don't go for communion, and if you don't want a blessing either and just want to stay in your seat, that's fine. I'm a Catholic and when I lived in a small village I would go to the CofE parish church for their mid-week Eucharist when I was on mat leave. No one ever mentioned the fact that I didn't go for communion. And I didn't know the words to all the prayers so I didn't join in everything. This was in a tiny church with a congregation in single figures. At bigger churches, definitely no one notices.
OTOH, if you're trying to sort out what you believe etc., I'm not sure that just going to church services would be much help. You'd be very welcome, obviously, but I wonder if it might help to talk to someone knowledgeable who would have time to sit down with you and discuss things openly?
Our local anglican church used to say - if you take communion in your own church, you are welcome to take it here.
Our current church would say - if you believe in Jesus, feel free to take communion, if you are not sure, then please give it a miss, and you are welcome to come and ask any questions you like.
All the churches I know would be very happy for you to come and sit, join in what you like, don't join in what you aren't comfortable with, and no-one would bat an eyelid.
In a 'normal' Cof E church you can join in with whatever you want. No pressure to say the prayers aloud if you don't want to, or to go up for communion or blessing. Just sit tight in your seat when others go up - no-one will notice or mind at all.
Imvho if people at that church judge you ,you need to find another as being a Christian to me is about welcoming and not judging . Please go .
At our church the priest invites people up to the altar rail for a blessing if they don't want to receive communion- that way you're still part of that bit of the service. Are there any small groups you could go to or chat to the vicar about any questions etc?
The Lord's Prayer is said out loud by most people but you can either say it in your head or not say it at all- as someone earlier said it's a journey for all of us and my belief is that God (and hopefully a good vicar/ church leader) would understand and respect that x
But whilst you can go up to the altar for a blessing instead of communion it is also fine to stay in your seat! No one should be making that judgment and if they are it's a reflection on them and not you
Well, I am going tomorrow but, unusually, there won't be Communion. I have found a friend to sit with.
I'm not expecting everything to click into place after one service, but I want to start feeling comfortable going so that I can go along on occasioons where I feel like I need to go.
I will report back!
Coming to this late, so most of what I'd have said has already been said...
In summary, please don't worry about this: you're fine to go for a blessing or not go up at all and no-one will make any assumptions or even bat an eye. Ditto with saying prayers out loud... just do whatever you are comfortable with.
I'm a bit sad, though, that you say: I feel like I'm not worthy and am being punished/challenged at the moment for some of the things I've done or thought and that this would stop you going for a blessing.
I promise you that there is no qualifying criterion of goodness that makes us worthy or unworthy of receiving God's blessing. Right at the heart of the Christian faith, it seems to me, is the idea that God accepts us just as we are and at whatever stage on our journey we are. We don't have to wait to turn to God until we feel 'good enough', or 'pure enough'. Nor, I believe, does God punish us for the bad things we may have done by keeping us at a distance from him. In fact, I'd suggest it's the opposite: that it's when we are most vulnerable, when we feel less convinced of our faith and of our worthiness of God's love, when we have built barriers between ourselves and God, when we're sad and ashamed, that we need God's blessing most. So by all means stay in your seat if that's what you feel more comfortable doing. But do not be afraid to ask for and receive God's blessing.
Wishing you well...
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