, , ,

Have you ever thought about a communion rail in church?  You know, one of these bad boys:


I’ve thought about them for some time – ever since my year adventure in Finland.

Communion rails exist to show reverence for the Eucharist.  That’s a good thing.

Communion rails also create a physical barrier and separation between the lay people and the people leading the service.  I’m pretty convinced that this is not a good thing.

You can learn a great deal about a pastor based on how they deal with such a barrier.  How does a pastor maneuver around a communion rail?  Do they insist on staying on the altar side, always?  Do they come around to the lay side during the service at all?

I’ve observed many pastors who have to deal with a communion rail.  I don’t have any type of scientific results here, but I have observations followed-up with conversations.  Call these generalizations and observations.

Generally I have found that if a pastor insists on staying on the altar side of the communion rail at all costs, they aren’t interested in being approachable.  Forget about asking questions or expressing doubts.  And I’m willing to bet there is a belief that God isn’t approachable either.

Generally I have also found that pastors that maneuver around the communion rail, and don’t make a big deal about the rail, are more approachable.  They also see God as someone that people can approach with questions, doubt, and even anger.

So why do I tell you about this?  It’s just something to think about, something I’ve been thinking about for some time now.  I wonder what your experience is with the communion rail.  Do you see you it as a barrier?  A symbol of reverence?  Something else?  Please share your thoughts on this.  Don’t worry, there isn’t a wrong answer on this – I’m asking for your observations and thoughts.  Thanks.