The Power of Inclusive Holy Communion (Gluten Free Bread Eucharist)

Let me begin by sharing that every single Holy Communion service while at my Diaconal Ministry Formation Event here in Gettysburg uses gluten free bread for all participants as well as alcohol free wine for all. Other than the one chapel service at Wartburg Seminary this fall that Shawn and I provided the communion bread (so it was gluten free), this is the first time I have felt fully included in the communion service. It is powerful.

We believe that we are communing as a community during Holy Communion as well as coming to Christ’s Table. It is a challenge to feel a part of the community when one cannot partake in the same elements as the rest of the community. Having GF bread available for those that need it is a step in the right direction; however, there is a difference when compared to all being able to partake together as a community.

In the past I would often either have to plan ahead and provide my own GF bread for communion, or be diligently watching to be sure that the GF bread is indeed available at the table as I was told it would be (either in person or through a church’s bulletin announcements). I have even experienced more than once going forward for communion only to be told that contrary to the printed announcement, there is no GF bread available today or that it was forgotten. And frequently even when it is there those serving communion do not understand what to do with it. I am open to honest respectful communication with anyone regarding the various ways to handle GF communion, but this post is simply a witness to how powerful, and truly life-changing, it has been to experience communion here at this event as a full participant.

We gather around the table in a semi circle during communion (we also generally worship in the round), and are served the gluten free bread and de-alcoholized wine as we are gathered there. We are there gathered together in that holy sacrament rather than going forward one at time.

I have often wept during and after this powerful experience this past week. I have not been so moved by gathering in community and remembering and receiving Christ’s body and blood in years. I give God thanks and praise for bringing me to this community!

Glory be to God!