As far as I understand (and this is without any real research because I’m too lazy to look it up), sole pastors of congregations have two options on how to receive the Lord’s Supper on Sunday mornings: An elder/deacon can commune them or they can self-commune. Growing up, the pastor of my home church had an elder give him the Lord’s Supper. However, he didn’t commune by himself,* his family joined him at the rail and received the Lord’s Supper by his side.
However, this isn’t the only way pastors and their families take communion. At my church in college and my husband’s field work, the pastors practiced self-communion and their families came to the rail with the rest of the congregation. At our vicarage church, the pastor receives communion from a deacon or my husband but his wife comes to the rail with the rest of the congregation. After observing several different practices, I have been considering what I would like to do once my husband has a call (God willing).
This past weekend I finally had an opportunity to compare whether I would like to commune with my husband or be communed by my husband. My husband and I were visiting one of our support congregations. Since my husband was preaching and assisting with the liturgy, the pastor’s wife offered to sit with me during the service (who, I might add, sat in the back. 🙂 ). She explained to me before the service started that she would go to the rail with her husband to receive communion from the deacon. “Otherwise,” she stated, “I would never get to have the Lord’s Supper with my husband!” This was my exact sentiment about the communion question, so I agreed to go up with her so I could receive the Lord’s Supper with my husband.
To be honest, I really, really believed that I would prefer communing beside my husband and not care that the deacon was the one doing the distribution. I miss sitting by my husband in church and thought that communing with him would ease some of this spousal-loneliness. However, as the deacon finished the dismissal after we had received the Supper, I realized that I didn’t like communing with my husband. Or, more specifically, I felt uncomfortable receiving communion from someone other than the pastor when there was no real reason to do so other than want of my husband’s physical presence.
To be clear, I’m not saying my feelings are doctrinally correct and the pastor’s wives who receive the Lord’s Supper with their husbands are wrong. I simply discovered that receiving communion from a deacon made me uneasy. Consequently, I guess I will prefer to be communed by my husband rather than with him if he becomes the sole pastor of a congregation.
Have you noticed what the pastor’s wife in your congregation chooses to do at the Lord’s Supper? If you are a member of a pastor’s family, how does your family participate in the Lord’s Supper?
*I realize that a person never really communes by themselves–they receive the Lord’s Supper with other believers, whether other believers are physically beside them or not. However, in this post I’m talking about the physical presence of others.