Back before the reformation, when communion was served, the priests would receive the body and the blood while the people would only receive the body. Article 19, of both kinds, directly addresses this practice. A practice that is currently anachronistic in Catholic circles, but still is something of interest to discuss due to the common reality of people with gluten allergies or intolerances.
Most Methodist churches currently serve communion by intinction. That means you are given a piece of the bread and dip it in the cup. Most Catholic and Episcopalian churches you are served the wafer and drink from the common cup together so that there is no dipping and fewer chances of crumbs.
A central aspect of Eucharistic theology is that both the cup and the bread function as communion so if you did only have the juice or the bread, it would still ‘work’. There is no deficiency to this. Article 19 encourages that the bread and the wine should be distributed to everyone and not reserved for some people and not others.
Okay, a lot of this may seem pretty convoluted and I am sorry for that. If you are still with me, awesome. One of the limits of intinction is that the method makes it very difficult to only have the cup since you need something to dip. There was a recent ruling by the Vatican about the production of communion wafers that is apropos. The Pope said that communion must have gluten. Now, there is a company in Missouri (I think) that produces communion wafers with .000001% gluten in it that is indistinguishable from other wafers. Yet, this avoids the major issue about why that ruling was not really a big deal. If you are allergic to gluten and you are Catholic, you just take the wine.
If you are allergic to gluten and you are Methodist, we have separate gluten free wafers. This is not ideal to have two separate loves. I have made gluten free communion bread before and after weeks of testing recipes, it turned out pretty good, but had to be baked fresh every morning before it was used. One of the lines in the liturgy which I can’t say anymore is that because there is one loaf, we who are many are one. I would much rather have all communion be a gluten free wafer or loaf than have two types, but this is where we are today.
Most of these blog posts have functioned to explain or elaborate on the various doctrines of the church. This is mostly a big question that there is little guidance or help from the church but for which the Articles of Religion can give a lodestar. We are to be a body which serves all and excludes none. Communion is not just a metaphor or a memory but Jesus for us, with us, in us, transforming us. Theology is not just answers. Theology is the questions we don’t know the answers to yet and the process of discerning together with Scripture how best to address them. That is hopeful. We are a part of what the future of the church will be. In the basic and central practice of sharing communion, we can seek a place of serving all in our midst, of being one body. We can also look to how we are not quite there and what it is going to take to truly be one.
Article XIX - Of Both Kinds
The cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay people; for both the parts of the Lord's Supper, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be administered to all Christians alike.