by Karen Boyd
“Take eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”
These beautiful and welcoming words are recognizable to each of us as part of our Eucharistic Prayer. They are the words of institution, when the celebrant lays hands upon the bread. This is the “moment of consecration.” Words of institution were included as far back as the third-century in Hippolytus Eucharistic Prayer of Apostolic Tradition.
Very early church members gathered in private homes, or other secluded places where they could remember and celebrate the life of Jesus Christ. Followers of The Way shared a sacred meal during this time together memorializing the last meal Jesus shared with his disciples on the night before he died. Paintings exist in the catacombs in Rome depicting this sacred meal. At the end of this meal, the food not consumed and the blessed bread and wine would be gathered together to be taken to the poor and the sick, those who were unable to gather with the other followers of Jesus. In the years to come, the act of sharing food and the act of sharing the consecrated bread and wine were separated, with clergy distributing the elements and the laity responsible for the food.
The 1997 General Convention of the Episcopal Church granted the ability to all members to become Lay Eucharistic visitors. These specially licensed individuals were then able to take the consecrated elements to all who are unable to gather during Sunday worship at the Lord’s table, “because we all share one bread and one cup.” This ministry continued until the time of COVID and necessary physical distancing. Since this time we have worshiped virtually and have celebrated a spiritual communion. Just recently we have been able gather together in our Nave, we again receive the body of Christ. However, there are many who are yet unable to worship with us in person. We have extended the Eucharistic Visiting Ministry to become Eucharist Outreach. Eucharistic Outreach allows all members to participate each Sunday with all of our community. Those wishing to participate should contact Deacon Karen by Thursday each week at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consecrated wafers can be picked up Sunday between 12:00-12:30 pm in the courtyard. A service leaflet will be provided. All participants may either conduct their own private service, or may gather with others via zoom on Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.