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- When we bring the Lord’s Supper to the sick and homebound, it is not a private communion but an extension of the table fellowship of the congregation to those who cannot be present. This benefits the sick or homebound in several ways:
- The tangible and material gifts of bread and wine may be especially meaningful for times of weakness of body or mind.
- The visible tie to the gathered congregation demonstrates the sick and homebound’s unity with the community with which they cannot gather for a time. This should always be expressed in words, and, if possible, through the presence of several other members of the community.
- The familiar words and actions of the sacrament are easily communicated and understood, sometimes even by those suffering from dementia.
- Often, due to the weakness of the recipient, the communion form must be shortened, and the responses minimized. But if the person is not so weak and is mentally alert, it is quite useful to bring a printed form along, for their full participation.
- The following preparations are important:
- If certain people are designated to bring the sacrament to the sick and homebound in the week after the celebration in public worship, a special prayer for them might be said at the end of the liturgy in the worship service.
- Think and pray about the spiritual, emotional, and physical condition of the recipient and plan accordingly.
- Make sure the elements are available and easily handled. Small, portable communion kits are readily available online. Make sure that they are available to other communion visitors.
- Taking a communion utensil (cup, plate, or other object) from the church may enhance the recipient’s sense of communion with the larger congregation.
- Keep the elements small for ease of handling and receiving. (You might consider using gluten free bread exclusively since an increasing number of people are sensitive to gluten.)
- Be sensitive to others who may be present during your visit, and be prepared to invite them to participate if appropriate.
- If you judge that the recipient may benefit from more involvement, have a brief print form available.
- Any visit can be tiring to a person who is sick, so be sensitive to the amount of time your visit will take.