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Health-based faith solutions (TM)

I genuinely thought that my previous post on the Purity Solutions communion wafer dispenser was a wonderful well-executed spoof. Then a person tweeted me that he had seen these for sale, and finally added his comment on the blog post. I am rendered speechless!

On facebook a person suggested I search “communion host dispenser”. I really shouldn’t have!

CCW500-2There are Pre-filled Communion Cups with Wafers This is a new product. “Single-serve Sanitary Prefilled Communion Cups and Wafers can help safeguard your congregation from the H1N1 Swine flu virus.”

Our prefilled communion cups and wafers include both the wafer and grape juice in one sanitary, single-serving sanitary container. Available in quantities of 500, 250, and 100 pre-filled communion cups per box. Product maintains a shelf-life of six months and the plastic cups are recyclable.

Every day we get phone calls from churches who have never tried these Communion cups, but who are curious. They always ask “Are they hard to open?” and “Do they spill?” We can say from our own personal experiences that they do not spill and they are quite easy to open. In fact, nearly every church that tries these Pre-filled Communion cups, orders them over and over again….and remember, the plastic cups are recyclable! (Free shipping applies in USA over $US175. What happens if you live in New Zealand? Oh yeah – I hope no one here would think of this…)

At the low-tech end of the spectrum I found some wafer serving tongs – made “religious” by having them 24k gold plate or food-grade stainless steel, plain, or engraved with a cross or with a laser cut out cross. Free shipping but “exceptions may apply”. (Probably New Zealand again!)

Then I ended up reading about a Greenlee Communion Dispensing Machine made of a stainless steel bucket with 40 plastic tubes that run through a sheet of Plexiglas dispensing grape juice into the cups of a communion tray.

It took seven people up to 30 hours over three days to perform the tedious task of filling the communion cups for the congregation at Southeast Christian Church, which has more than 15,000 members.

Not any more. Not since inventor Wilfred Greenlee joined the church and came up with a machine that cuts the preparation time to 1 1/2

Finally, I could read no more after I found a website seriously tabulating a comparison between the Communalabra™ Communion Host Dispensing System and the Purity Communion Host Dispenser I had originally thought was a funny hoax.

[I hardly dare mention the Orthodox practice of mixing the bread and wine in a spoon, and the pope’s practice of drinking the wine through a golden straw.]

All this feels a little way away from the powerful symbolism Jesus had with a common cup of wine and a shared broken loaf of bread…

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11 thoughts on “Health-based faith solutions (TM)”

    1. I certainly do not want to derail this thread by moving it to a debate on transubstantiation; Vincent may be making his comment as a quip within the context of this post, but he does express what many people might misunderstand about Aristotle’s substance attribute theory as applied to the belief that Christ is present in the Eucharist. In this philosophical model “a hat’s shape is not the hat itself, nor is its colour the hat, nor is its size, nor its softness to the touch, nor anything else about it perceptible to the senses. The hat itself (the “substance”) has the shape, the colour, the size, the softness and the other appearances, but is distinct from them.” The shape, size, softness, etc. are the “accidents”. Following this model, in the Eucharist the substance becomes Christ, but the accidents are unchanged. The alcohol content of the wine still affects you. The bread still nourishes physically. And nothing is changed in the transubstantiation model which would alter the effect of any germs present.

  1. Attended a Good Friday service earlier this year in Naperville, Il. and was astonished to be served communion in the pre-filled cup you mention. My first thought was ‘only in America’!

  2. I have so many thoughts about this, I will try to be brief.

    First of all, as someone who coordinates liturgies here in the affluence of the western world, I pray for patience as I hear all the hue and cry over “germs” at communion.

    I am not stupid, Jesus is not magic but can people get a grip please? God grant me patience and mercy, please.

    One thought I have when someone (at either my paid church job or my ministry at my parish) asks about “what Father is going to do about this! Can we stop the cup please? No hand holding or giving peace please!” I get upset.

    My harsh reply, which I hear in my heart is “can you politely refrain from that which you do not wish to do?” If you don’t want to share peace, cross your arms and bow or nod your head with a big smile that comes from your heart if you do not want to touch or if you are ill.

    Don’t want to drink from the cup? Then do not.

    It all smacks of an individualism that I find hard to deal with, having it “one’s own way.”

    As for what I think evil is, I think evil is that which divides us from God – therefore what divides us from one another… Was Jesus meant to be dispensed from a mechanical object? Maybe – but I don’t know.

    It seems to me that not touching each other or Christ is a wedge of evil that can divide. Maybe I am overreacting.

    Lastly (so much for brevity, sorry) I think of the affluence of where I am and the germ-mania. Then I think of the luxury of not holding hands or the luxury of Purell hand sanitizer on the credence table and I am reminded of people who live in garbage dumps in Haiti and elsewhere. They scrap for food amidst the dogs and rats and are happy with what they find.

    I am not suggesting that that is good, I am simply saying that to be close to God is to be united with the impoverished. And when we do not want to touch, that means we are far more impoverished in ways that we cannot comprehend.

    Sorry for the rant, this has been all heavy on my heart in these times. Peace and good things to all.

  3. What are we afraid of? On Sunday when I enter my church my hand automatically reaches for the now empty bowl of Holy Water. We are asked to offer one another the sign of peace without contact. This troubles me somewhat. Am I going to catch the flu from hugging someone or am I more likely to catch it from touching a doorhandle at the mall? My chances are probably equal with both. But I like to live dangerously and get a hug! If available at the time would Jesus have put on a hazmat suit before touching and healing a leper? Are we afraid of dying? I am, so I know that I have to do more work on my faith. In the end shouldn’t we look forward to the Kingdom of Heaven?
    I wash my hands, I cough into the crook of my arm now, I try not to spread my germs, but I’m going out into the world today without a hazmat suit and I will still give my hugs freely and I will shake any hand offered to me. I like living on the edge…

  4. It seems to me a sneaky denial of the incarnation. When The Son became man he threw himself in the middle of disease and human filth. Throughout his earthly life he ate with sinners and the least of these (sometimes not even washing his hands!). Then, in his last hours on this earth he did the sanitarily-unthinkable: he washed his disciples feet.

    Now look at his followers in the 21st century afraid to even touch each other.

  5. I don’t think the individual cups with wafers are actually new…I distinctly recall them being used at a youth gathering circa 1995 when they served a few thousand youth all at once in a stadium. I was slightly horrified when the basket passed down the row and I got to take my very own! The ones we had were double wrapped. You remove the first layer to get to the host, and then the second layer to get to the juice.

  6. The holy water dispensers make sense from a germ standpoint. You are sticking your fingers (which carry more disease than your mouth) in the same water as everyone else.

    Communion elements being served like Lunchables is something else. http://brands.kraftfoods.com/lunchables/

    There are enough studies out there showing the risk of transmission through a common cup to be slight.

  7. I found the sanitized wine and wafer useful in hospital chaplaincy when a heart transplant patient wanted communion after his surgery. IMHO there are better ways to distribute communion to a whole congregation though avoiding the experience of Rev Sarah. Many dioceses seems to be recommending variations on having hand hand sanitizer available (and using it). Educating that communion in one kind is valid (if there is flu in the area and there is a desire not use the common cup) Make sure people don’t intinct, etc.

  8. Douglas Henricksen

    I actually took the time to research the subject regarding the potential spread of germs during communion and found that there has been a number of scientific studies performed and more than 3,000 articles written on the subject. I would rather error on the side of safety. The fact is the number of deadly drug resistant infectious diseases has been and continues to be on the increase. Health officials continue to say the washing of hands is the most important method of preventing the spread of disease. They also say that although contaminated food may not make you sick, you should not eat it. Studies have shown that hand sanitizers are not 100 percent effective. A significant number of church goers stop taking communion during the cold and flu months due to the fear of contracting some form of deadly illness; a number of Catholic diocese have limited or halted communion altogether. Obviously I cannot speak for God, but I do not think he would mind the use of a product that prevented the spread of germs and made people feel safe. The important thing is it prevents the spread of germs during the communion service in a manner that Celebrates the Lord’s Supper through healthier worship, preserves the holiness of the sacrament and the traditions of individual religious bodies. I have looked at these new products and the one that I believe is acceptable is the Communalabra that is being offered by Agnus Dei Church Supplies. God Bless.

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