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Is there a liturgical difference between "communion" and "Eucharist"?

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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-21-06 09:22 PM
Original message
Is there a liturgical difference between "communion" and "Eucharist"?
Or a theological difference?

Obviously, there are differences in how different expressions of the faith celebrate the last supper; but is there a legitimate liturgical or even theological difference between the terms "Eucharist" and "Communion"?

So far as I know there isn't, but I am curious.

The only difference of note that I've ever noticed is that Catholics like to call it Eucharist, and most protestants tend to call it Communion, more than likely for the sole reason of trying to distance themselves from the Catholics (much like calling it "worship" instead of "Mass"). But in actual function, there doesn't seem to be any actual difference between the terms "Eucharist" and "Communion", other than a somewhat functional difference in theology that is non-dependant on the terminology.
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RevCheesehead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-21-06 11:25 PM
Response to Original message
1. I prefer the word "Eucharist" personally.
Because the word means "Thanksgiving."
Protestant communion has always been guilt-laden, and heavy on sin and atonement, rather than gratitude and thanks for the saving work of Christ, which frees us for new life.

Admittedly, it's perhaps a theological difference - but I think that through groups like the WCC, churches are trying to find common understanding of baptism, eucharist, and ministry.

In our communion liturgy, I list the order of worship like this:

(part 3) Thanksgiving and Communion
* The Great Thanksgiving
* The Lord's Prayer
* Sharing the Bread and Cup
* Prayer

What I perceive is a theological shift, at least among the clergy. Thank God for COCU (Consultation on Church Union) - we may yet find the Kingdom of Heaven right here on earth. O8)
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-24-06 04:51 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. And I'm finally gonna weigh in here -
I'm sure everyone was waiting with baited breath for me to chime in, too. :eyes:

I had assumed that there is no real difference between eucharist, communion, celebrating the lord's supper, or just the lord's supper. Just a matter of naming, and it seems that has been affirmed. I was kind of curious to hear from the more ritualistic/sacramental traditions, such as Catholic and Episcopal, but I think there answer would be that, no, there is no difference in the liturgy between any of them.

It seems the only difference is in, shall we say, an emotional component - like the emotional difference between using the name "Mt. McKinley" or calling it "Denali". It's the same thing, but there is a different sense to each of those names.

Personally, when I think Eucharist, I think of the vertical relationship between us and God - since it means "thanksgiving", as you stated, it's more an up-down thing, that seems to accentuate the transcendant nature of God. "Communion" (also "The Lord's Supper") makes me think of the horizontal relationship between God and us - the communal and imminent nature of God. "Eucharist" feels more mystical; "Communion" feels more personal. And in some ways, for me anyway, "Communion" feels a tad empty. "The Lord's Supper" feels more like a party and a celebration, and "Agape Meal" is the ultimate in fraternity party-down-ness.

I like the term Eucharist, OR calling it a celebration of the Lord's Supper, OR agape meal.

I'm not real big on the term "Communion".

But then, I'm totally a closeted Episcopalian.

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regnaD kciN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-02-06 04:01 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. I think "Eucharist" became popular in the Episcopal Church...
...around the time of the creation of the 1979 Prayer Book. I would guess that those putting it together were torn as to what to call the liturgy, since "Holy Communion" was used by the Protestant wing of the ECUSA, and "Mass" by the Catholic wing, so they compromised and decided to use the Greek Orthodox term "Eucharist" instead. All I know is that I'd never heard the term before picking up the Draft Proposed BCP in 1976, and it has become quite common in western Christianity since then.

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Left Is Write Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-17-06 07:17 PM
Response to Reply #1
8. I'm a lifetime member of a Protestant church...
The ELCA Lutheran Church (I was ALC before the synod merger), and our communion has never been "guilt-laden and heavy on sin and atonement."
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JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-20-06 01:11 AM
Response to Reply #8
13. Same here
In both the ELCA and the LCMS, the atonement gets taken care of with confession and absolution.
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realisticphish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-20-06 11:12 AM
Response to Reply #8
14. ditto
another ELCA person here. Communion was always very ceremonial, but it wasn't heavy on atonement; thankful and joyful, really.
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murielm99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-24-06 05:19 AM
Response to Original message
2. For a long time, I went to a
Church of the Brethren. I am a United Methodist now, for many reasons not important here.

The Brethren always refer to the sacrament as the Love Feast. I have never heard it called anything else. I had to ask at first if it was the same as communion.

The Love Feast consists of three parts. First is a simple communal meal. The meal is meat and broth poured over bread. I was told that it is probably what the early Christians ate. It may have been the only meal of the day for some of them.

The next part is the foot washing. Members wash each other's feet, as Christ washed the disciples' feet. Women and men don't wash each others' feet. The sexes are separate for this.

Next is the bread and juice, since Brethren are abstainers. They do not believe in transubstantiation.

Often, individual congregations do not celebrate the first two parts of the Love Feast at any other time than Easter. But the whole Love Feast is always celebrated at Easter.

I always appreciated the shared love and celebration of the occasion. There was nothing rote or ritualistic about it.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-24-06 02:27 PM
Response to Original message
3. In modern usage, it's more of a denominational distinction
Episcopalians use Eucharist, while Lutherans use Communion, but their theology of the ceremony is nearly identical.

As the Rev said, "Eucharist" means "Thanksgiving," and "Communion" means "uniting together."
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-08-06 12:57 PM
Response to Original message
6. In the Reformed tradition,
the term most commonly used is "communion", though there's no reason not to use "eucharist". The Reformed Faith has always emphasized the mystical union with Christ and with "Christians in all times and places" in the common meal. Thus, "communion". Giving thanks in all things is central to the Reformed tradition anyway--we even live ethical lives not to get into heaven, but in gratitude for grace granted through eternity. Thus, all worship, including the sacrament, is "thanksgiving", making "eucharist" apropos, too.

Confused? Welcome to Reformed Christianity!
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JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-26-06 08:51 AM
Response to Original message
7. It has to do with the idea of Mass and Eucharist as a sacrifice
I can't speak for other Protestants, but for Lutherans the language surrounding what happens up front with the cup and wafer are somewhat heavily burdened. To get a glimpse at why, this article might help.
http://www.worship.ca/docs/ww_16.html

Worship is actually a better term in my opinion because Mass has a more specific meaning. Calling a worship service mass is akin to calling a school-board meeting "vote", Mass can and is used to refer to the actual communion/eucharistic ceremony. Since it is the central act of the worship ritual, many refer to the whole ritual as mass.

As far as eucharist vs. communion. The theological differences have a lot to do with whom one is talking to. If I am talking with Lutherans, we can use either term without problem as we know what it is we are talking about (i.e. we know what the sacrament means within our Church) But when conversation is going on between denominations, things become confusing as different denominations have different eucharistic theology.
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-17-06 08:39 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Yes, I understand the theological differences. I'm asking, however,
if there is a LITURGICAL difference.

And by theological differences, I mean "I understand that different expressions of Christianity hold theological differences of opinion in the MEANING of THE ACT of communion/eucharist/lord's-supper".
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JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-18-06 01:58 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. In your OP you asked about theological differences too, but there is...
liturgical difference as well. The article I posted, which is now sadly defunct was an illustration of how both liturgical and theological differences are present.

Eucharistic theology and its consequences in liturgy was behind the LCMS backing out of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship that produced the Lutheran Book of Worship. After backing out the LCMS quickly threw together Lutheran Worship. If anyone has ever been to both ELCA and LCMS services, they would probably notice that LW contains almost identical worship settings with the fundamental difference being the communion section in LW is stripped down to the words of institution (He took the bread, gave thanks....this is my body given..etc.) Whereas the ELCA has the option (an option frequently NOT taken) of adding an epiclesis to the liturgy.

Here is an article that discusses this difference in more detail.
http://www.ctsfw.edu/library/files/pb/233

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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-18-06 01:19 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Ah, yes - I did mention theology, but only in terms of
Is there a theological difference in the terms "eucharist" and "communion"?

And thanks for the note on the ELCA and LCMS: I am surprised that any expression of Lutheranism allows the absence of the epiclesis. I thought they would all be more high-churchy than that.
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JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-18-06 01:35 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. The epiclesis was out for nearly 500 years and even in the ELCA...
it is looked at with a good degree of suspicion. In my experience, the LCMS is often the more high-churchy of the major Lutheran synods. I've never seen an ELCA pastor perform the Liturgy facing East (i.e away from the congregation) while I've seen it frequently in the LCMS. Similarly, of the local Lutheran churches, only the LCMS does the old-fashioned kneeling for communion. The ELCA churches had people come up in line and take communion standing. The WELS can be even bigger sticklers. But the epiclesis is just not "Lutheran" traditionally.


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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-22-06 05:15 PM
Response to Reply #11
16. I'm influenced by both Reformed liturgy and Disciples tradition
Edited on Mon May-22-06 05:18 PM by mycritters2
I've served in both the UCC and the DOC, so I have a pretty snake-belly low liturgical style. I'm Zwinglian in terms of my sacramentology, and as I said eariler, stress the mystical union of the Body of Christ as the Church Universal, more than any action on the elements.

My communion services always use an invitation, a consecrating prayer, the Words of Institution, the sharing of the elements, and a prayer of Thanksgiving. The order may vary occasionally. That is, sometimes the Words precede consecration, sometimes they follow, sometimes they are included in the prayer (as in the Book of Worship). Sometimes I use the great acclamation, sometimes not, but a sanctus in its place--rarely both (people whine if worship runs too long, ya know!).

I suspect that I'm a bit looser with the communion liturgy because of two things: again, my experience with the Disciples who have little formal liturgy (lay elders consecrate the elements--I just sat there and received like eveyone else! And I enjoyed that!); and my sense that communion is about community more than anything to do with the elements. I want it to be a strengthening of community--a communal meal--more than a fixed liturgy. Still, I'm a traditionalist enough that my services meet the standards of the COCU document nearly all the time.

And then there's the fact that I don't want the liturgy to become repetitive or rote. So, I do what little I can to keep it fresh, while meeting my own sense of what should be included.

So, again:
Invitation to the Table
Consecrating Prayer/Words of Institution
(Great Acclamation/Sanctus)
Sharing
Thanksgiving

Does this answer your question?

On edit...I think I've responded to the right person but wrong sub-thread. I keep doing that!! Sorry!
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Critters2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-22-06 05:04 PM
Response to Reply #10
15. Help out this low-church type, if you would...
by saying that the LCMS uses no epiclesis, are you saying there's no consecrating prayer at all, or only that there is no explicit calling down of the Holy Spirit?
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