Communion trays that hold both cups and bread?

Northern Crofter

Puritan Board Freshman
This past Lord's Day, our minister mentioned toward the end of his annual verbal report to the congregation that the session was considering switching to communion trays that hold both cups and bread to distribute both elements at once - something like this I think:

081407015774_01-1024x938.png
I wasn't aware such a thing existed until I googled "communion trays that hold both cups and bread." It was just a passing comment in his report with no explanation and caused quite a few puzzled looks to be exchanged amongst us sitting there. There was some quiet discussion afterward but I don't think anyone approached the pastor about it. I don't think any of us had heard of such a thing. Does anyone have any experience with this type of practice? The few people I discussed it with after the meeting seemed uncomfortable about it, as was I. It will definitely be brought up with the pastor/session but I think everyone was taken back by the idea as it is unfamiliar to all of us - I would like to hear thoughts from PB folk as I try to figure out what I think about this and how to best communicate my thoughts to the session. My initial reaction is "I don't like it" as it seems in my mind to stray further from the original institution (I remain a common cup advocate). But is it really wrong? For example, note the wording of WCF 29.3 (emphasis mine): "The Lord Jesus, hath, in this ordinance, appointed His ministers to declare His word of institution to the people; to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to a holy use; and to take and break the bread, to take the cup, and (they communicating also themselves) to give both to the communicants...." (see also LC 169: "...to take and break the bread, and to give both the bread and the wine to the communicants...."). Again, this will be discussed with the session - just looking for information prior to doing so from anyone familiar with this practice and any existing objections or support for it.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Never heard of or seen it. The directory speaks of two successive actions.

"The elements being now sanctified by the word and prayer, the minister, being at the table, is to take the bread in his hand, and say, in these expressions, (or other the like, used by Christ or his apostle upon this occasion

"According to the holy institution, command, and example of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ, I take this bread, and, having given thanks, break it, and give it unto you; (there the minister, who is also himself to communicate, is to break the bread, and give it to the communicants "Take ye, eat ye; this is the body of Christ which is broken for you: do this in remembrance of him."

In like manner the minister is to take the cup, and say, in these expressions, (or other the like, used by Christ or the apostle upon the same occasion

"According to the institution, command, and example of our Lord Jesus Christ, I take this cup, and give it unto you; (here he giveth it to the communicants This cup is the new testament in the blood of Christ, which is shed for the remission of the sins of many: drink ye all of it."

After all have communicated, the minister may, in a few words, put them in mind,

"Of the grace of God in Jesus Christ, held forth in this sacrament; and exhort them to walk worthy of it."

The minister is to give solemn thanks to God,

"For his rich mercy, and invaluable goodness, vouchsafed to them in that sacrament; and to entreat for pardon for the defects of the whole service, and for the gracious assistance of his good Spirit, whereby they may be enabled to walk in the strength of that grace, as becometh those who have received so great pledges of salvation."
 

Northern Crofter

Puritan Board Freshman
Never heard of or seen it. The directory speaks of two successive actions.

"The elements being now sanctified by the word and prayer, the minister, being at the table, is to take the bread in his hand, and say, in these expressions, (or other the like, used by Christ or his apostle upon this occasion

"According to the holy institution, command, and example of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ, I take this bread, and, having given thanks, break it, and give it unto you; (there the minister, who is also himself to communicate, is to break the bread, and give it to the communicants "Take ye, eat ye; this is the body of Christ which is broken for you: do this in remembrance of him."

In like manner the minister is to take the cup, and say, in these expressions, (or other the like, used by Christ or the apostle upon the same occasion

"According to the institution, command, and example of our Lord Jesus Christ, I take this cup, and give it unto you; (here he giveth it to the communicants This cup is the new testament in the blood of Christ, which is shed for the remission of the sins of many: drink ye all of it."

After all have communicated, the minister may, in a few words, put them in mind,

"Of the grace of God in Jesus Christ, held forth in this sacrament; and exhort them to walk worthy of it."

The minister is to give solemn thanks to God,

"For his rich mercy, and invaluable goodness, vouchsafed to them in that sacrament; and to entreat for pardon for the defects of the whole service, and for the gracious assistance of his good Spirit, whereby they may be enabled to walk in the strength of that grace, as becometh those who have received so great pledges of salvation."
The RPCNA's Directory (page F-15 below) seems even more precise ("The bread is then distributed....Next"). It seems to me to be saying the 2 elements are to be distributed separately - or is this a case of me reading my own preference into it?:
1674042354758.png
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
That seems pretty clear. Those concerned could certainly appeal to the directory in saying this change would be contrary to it.
The RPCNA's Directory (page F-15 below) seems even more precise ("The bread is then distributed....Next"). It seems to me to be saying the 2 elements are to be distributed separately - or is this a case of me reading my own preference into it?:
View attachment 9979
 

JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
Was any explanation given as to why session wants to distriubte both elements at once? I suppose I can see a scenario where both elements are distributed at once, but not consumed at once - that might still be within the constraints of Scripture and etc. But I can't think of a reason why one woulod want to do so unless you're all sitting around a table - where does one put the wine while we're communing with the bread etc.? Seems strange to me?
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
If it's against your Directory, that's one thing, but, in principle, I see no reason to be bothered by this. When I saw this thread, I thought of the following passage in Calvin:

"With respect to the external ceremonial, whether the faithful take the bread in their hands or not; whether they divide it between them, or every individual eat that which is given to him; whether they return the cup into the hand of the deacon, or deliver it to the person who is next; whether the bread be leavened or unleavened; whether the wine be red or white; is not of the least importance. These things are indifferent, and left to the liberty of the Church."​
—John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. John Allen, 3 vols. (New Haven, CT: Hezekiah Howe & Philip H. Nicklin, 1816), IV.xvii.43.​
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Was any explanation given as to why session wants to distriubte both elements at once? I suppose I can see a scenario where both elements are distributed at once, but not consumed at once - that might still be within the constraints of Scripture and etc. But I can't think of a reason why one woulod want to do so unless you're all sitting around a table - where does one put the wine while we're communing with the bread etc.? Seems strange to me?
I agree with you. It seems confusing.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
If it's against your Directory, that's one thing, but, in principle, I see no reason to be bothered by this. When I saw this thread, I thought of the following passage in Calvin:

"With respect to the external ceremonial, whether the faithful take the bread in their hands or not; whether they divide it between them, or every individual eat that which is given to him; whether they return the cup into the hand of the deacon, or deliver it to the person who is next; whether the bread be leavened or unleavened; whether the wine be red or white; is not of the least importance. These things are indifferent, and left to the liberty of the Church."​
—John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. John Allen, 3 vols. (New Haven, CT: Hezekiah Howe & Philip H. Nicklin, 1816), IV.xvii.43.​
Brother, as much as I love Calvin (and you), I much prefer the spirit of Westminster:

The elements being now sanctified by the word and prayer, the minister, being at the table, is to take the bread in his hand, and say, in these expressions, (or other the like, used by Christ or his apostle upon this occasion) :

“According to the holy institution, command, and example of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ, I take this bread, and, having given thanks, break it, and give it unto you; (there the minister, who is also himself to communicate, is to break the bread, and give it to the communicants) : “Take ye, eat ye; this is the body of Christ which is broken for you: do this in remembrance of him.”

In like manner the minister is to take the cup, and say, in these expressions, (or other the like, used by Christ or the apostle upon the same occasion.

“According to the institution, command, and example of our Lord Jesus Christ, I take this cup, and give it unto you; (here he giveth it to the communicants) : This cup is the new testament in the blood of Christ, which is shed for the remission of the sins of many: drink ye all of it.


How can it be indifferent "whether the faithful take the bread in their hands or not," when Christ said, "take, eat?" Why not be governed "according to the holy institution, command, and example of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ?" Sacraments are actions. Shouldn't our sacramental actions conform to the institution of the Lord?
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Brother, as much as I love Calvin (and you), I much prefer the spirit of Westminster:

The elements being now sanctified by the word and prayer, the minister, being at the table, is to take the bread in his hand, and say, in these expressions, (or other the like, used by Christ or his apostle upon this occasion) :

“According to the holy institution, command, and example of our blessed Saviour Jesus Christ, I take this bread, and, having given thanks, break it, and give it unto you; (there the minister, who is also himself to communicate, is to break the bread, and give it to the communicants) : “Take ye, eat ye; this is the body of Christ which is broken for you: do this in remembrance of him.”

In like manner the minister is to take the cup, and say, in these expressions, (or other the like, used by Christ or the apostle upon the same occasion.

“According to the institution, command, and example of our Lord Jesus Christ, I take this cup, and give it unto you; (here he giveth it to the communicants) : This cup is the new testament in the blood of Christ, which is shed for the remission of the sins of many: drink ye all of it.


How can it be indifferent "whether the faithful take the bread in their hands or not," when Christ said, "take, eat?" Why not be governed "according to the holy institution, command, and example of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ?" Sacraments are actions. Shouldn't our sacramental actions conform to the institution of the Lord?
I didn’t quote Calvin as the end-all; that wasn’t my intention. I only wished to show that there is difference of opinion about this, that people much smarter than any of us held to different beliefs, and that it therefore probably isn’t matter over which to distress. Just my two cents, brother, to be taken or left at one’s discretion.

(Note: The Westminster Directory has no constitutional status in my own denomination. I’m not sure about the RPCNA.)
 

Northern Crofter

Puritan Board Freshman
Was any explanation given as to why session wants to distriubte both elements at once?
No - it was mentioned for the first time this past Lord's Day. I'm sure there will be some type of further discussion as it left many scratching their heads...
I suppose I can see a scenario where both elements are distributed at once, but not consumed at once - that might still be within the constraints of Scripture and etc.
That is what I was thinking, too.
But I can't think of a reason why one woulod want to do so unless you're all sitting around a table - where does one put the wine while we're communing with the bread etc.? Seems strange to me?
I'm glad it isn't just me!
When I saw this thread, I thought of the following passage in Calvin
Yes, there are matters in worship and even the Lord's Supper that are indifferent: "some circumstances concerning the worship of God... which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence"(WCF 1.6). But none of what Calvin mentions are aspects of the Lord's Supper that are clearly portrayed in Scripture (first the bread, then the cup, distributed and partaken separately) - the things he mentions are generally agreed to be in the category of indifference. Can you switch the order (cup first, then bread)? Not in my view - things clearly mentioned in Scripture are not indifferent.
I’m not sure about the RPCNA.
I posted the relative portion from their Directory in #3.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
I would humbly suggest that a good first step would be honestly asking your pastor or session for their reasons and opening up a discussion with him/them prior to posting about it on a public forum. Be open with your discomfort and your current thinking with them, even if it's "I'm not entirely sure why I'm uncomfortable with the idea" or "I'm wondering if there is good reason our Directory seems to have them sequentially".
 

Wonderkins

Puritan Board Freshman
Was any explanation given as to why session wants to distriubte both elements at once? I suppose I can see a scenario where both elements are distributed at once, but not consumed at once - that might still be within the constraints of Scripture and etc. But I can't think of a reason why one woulod want to do so unless you're all sitting around a table - where does one put the wine while we're communing with the bread etc.? Seems strange to me?
Any church I've ever been to does it this way. But I've never attended a Presbyterian church. That may be why.
 

Northern Crofter

Puritan Board Freshman
I would humbly suggest that a good first step would be honestly asking your pastor or session for their reasons and opening up a discussion with him/them prior to posting about it on a public forum. Be open with your discomfort and your current thinking with them, even if it's "I'm not entirely sure why I'm uncomfortable with the idea" or "I'm wondering if there is good reason our Directory seems to have them sequentially".
I appreciate that. As I said in the OP, I do plan to talk with them, I just wanted to see if anyone else had experience with this practice. It is new to me and I am trying to go in to any discussion with some type of perspective. Since they haven't actually taken any action yet, I didn't think it inappropriate to open a general discussion in this forum. Please note that as an adherent in your denomination, I have no standing to formally petition the Session - I can petition them but they don't have to respond, so sometimes I have to look for answers elsewhere if I don't receive a response.
 
Top