Pre-Packaged Communion Cups with Wafers

Apr 23, 2011

The Bottom Line Keywords: Communion, Communion Cups, Communion Wafers, Church Supplies

     This is a review of church supplies, for which Epinions does not have a category. I’m not comfortable SAP’ing these in Food and Drink, so it looks as if this review shall forever retain editorial status.

Product Rating: 5.0

Pros: Less expensive and perishable than purchasing regular Communion elements; beautifully significant.

Cons: Difficult to open; initially expensive; controversial in some circles.

The Bottom Line: Particularly for larger churches or Bible studies in which the leader does not have access to Communion cups, these are a wonderful substitute.

     Church supplies? Particularly, Communion cups? What right or experience do I have to review those? Well, dear reader, I have been to a number of church services and Bible studies in my life, many of which used pre-filled Communion cups. Too, my grandfather was a Methodist pastor, so I have become relatively acquainted with the large boxes of pre-filled Communion cups commonly found at Christian bookstores and church supply stores.

     So, then, your next question is “why”? Why is a lay person taking it upon herself to review something that symbolizes such holiness? Three reasons: The first, which penetrates my entire being, is that Communion is precious to me. I am Protestant Nondenominational, so the bread and wine/grape juice are symbolic to me—memories of a perfect sacrifice and of sins atoned for, but not a part of a Transubstantiative process. If this were the only reason for my review, it should be enough—grace on grace.

     Yet, there is a second reason—one that might benefit you. It is because I am a lay person that I can offer this advice: Research the Communion cups your church is using! Otherwise, you will be in worship one Sunday morning, praying for forgiveness or thanking God for His mercy, when you will find yourself in the midst of a great mishap. Suddenly, the ushers will begin to distribute Communion elements and the pastor will read the Scriptures pertaining to the Last Supper. Suddenly, you’ll realize that you have opened a prefilled Communion cup incorrectly—hence, you cannot get it open at all. Dear reader, my review is here to help before that happens. I have found a way to open prefilled Communion cups. Never again must I partake only in my heart when everyone else is physically partaking.

     Then, of course, there is my third argument: Tomorrow is Resurrection Day, and I wish to celebrate as fully as possible. As some of my readers may have noticed, I have been reviewing a number of devotional books, worship albums, etc. I do this because I wish to thank the Lord in the only way I know how. If I played an instrument, I would have spent the past week playing it at all hours of the day and night. As it is, I know how to write, so that is my offering of praise. The Lord has set me free from such fear and uncertainty that I feel, quite certainly, that I must celebrate Resurrection Day as fully as I know how. Soon, I’ll be back to reviewing iced-tea makers, heating pads, children’s books, and beginners’ French programs. For the moment, though, ‘tis time to focus on Communion.

     First, a brief theological lesson. Those who wish to skip and skim are free to do so. During Jesus’ last days of ministry, the night before His crucifixion, He assembled with His twelve apostles in the upper room of a house in Jerusalem. During the most precious of all feasts, He gave His disciples many instructions and commandments—to love one another with a pure form of Agape love, to abide in Christ and His teachings, and to believe that He is the Son of God. During this time, He also instituted what we now know as the Lord’s Supper. And, because the Bible is more adequate than my explanations, the following is from Matthew 26:26-30: “As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” With this in mind, most churches continue to take Communion, partaking of bread and either wine or grape juice in memory of Christ’s atonement for sins. At the Bible study I frequent, we usually open and close with singing in keeping with v. 30: “and when they had sung a hymn…”

     Lesson over. Now, onto these cups themselves. These cups, listed as Communion Cups pre-filled and Wafers, come in boxes of 100, 250, 500, and 1000. What size you buy would depend on your needs and the size of your church. Prices range accordingly, from $24 to approximately $100. However, because these may be kept for a number of years, purchasing the larger boxes may be more economical.

     Now then, what are these? They are Communion elements, conveniently packaged and able to be used by larger congregations. If you examine the top of a cup, you will encounter a thin layer of plastic designed to preserve the wafer underneath. I’ll expound upon the wafer in a moment, but do note that the plastic contains a brief Scripture: “This is My body.” So, already, congregants are put in mind of the reverent time of worship in which they are about to participate. When it is time to partake of the bread, individuals need only remove this plastic covering. It’s a bit noisy unless done carefully, which may interrupt the intensity of the moment, but it is relatively easy to do.

     Beneath that initial layer is the Communion wafer—a piece of bread about the size of a nickel. I believe I read somewhere that the bread is unleavened—both for spiritual reasons and for reasons of preservation. The wafer is to be received after reading the Scriptures or at a pastor’s direction, and after prayer. I always love to thank the Lord for giving us His Word during this time, ask forgiveness for any sins I may have committed, etc.

     Under the wafer is the cup itself, covered by a foil lid of sorts. Ironically, this lid does not have a Scripture on it, as the plastic covering did. Now, unless you’re careful, the aluminum lid can be very difficult to separate from the plastic cup. On more than one occasion, I’ve tried to remove the lid only to find that the cup itself had caved in. Solution: Find the tab used for removing the foil lid and lift up on it, ever so slightly. Slide one finger between the lid and the cup and hold firmly. This works especially well if you have fingernails. With the other hand, remove the lid—gently. During this time, keep firm hold of the plastic lip on the cup. Otherwise, the plastic has a tendency to cling to the foil, and the cup cannot be opened at all. Did I ever mention that these are rather tightly sealed for preservation?

     The cup itself contains a small quantity of grape juice. As far as I can tell, this is Welch’s grape juice. Legend or history—I can’t tell which—has it that a Mr. Welch, of the early twentieth-century, designed Welch’s Grape Juice specifically for Communion services. A minister dedicated to the Temperance Movement, he decided to develop an alternative to wine in worship services. This is pure, non-fermented grape juice designed to last for some time. Personally, I do not believe that using wine in Communion services is wrong; after all, Jesus used it. However, for people who wish to abstain from actual wine for health or theological reasons, this is an excellent choice.

     On a personal note, this is the time when I simply like to thank the Lord for His salvation. “Thank You, Lord, for writing our names in Your Book of Life”… Of course, the pastor generally says a corporate prayer, but I always take this time to thank God personally for His presence.

     From my admittedly protracted description of these cups, I know that some readers are questioning their validity at all. I’ve known several people who consider pre-packaged Communion elements superficial. Detractors view such church supplies as lax and as promoting liberalism. While I can understand this viewpoint, I feel that all Communion elements are sanctified not through preparation, but through the worshipper’s motives. This is a personal matter of the heart; carefully-prepared elements, if not taken in the right spirit, are what is truly harmful. However, using these or any other Communion elements is a personal choice that should be made by a pastor and the church elders; getting too deeply entrenched in matters of practicality does not allow room for praise or thanksgiving.

     For churches that do choose to use pre-packaged Communion elements, I cannot more highly recommend these. Of course, every Communion service needs music that glorifies God, so I also recommend “Jesus, Thank You” by Sovereign Grace Music; “God of Mercy” by Vineyard Music; “Come Expecting Jesus” by John Chisum; and “Under the Blood”, “Your Grace Is Sufficient”, and “Come to the Table” by Martin J. Nystrom. But these, you can either buy songbooks for or discover for yourself. For congregants, I don’t suppose I can necessarily “recommend” these cups, but I do hope this review has been helpful in either learning a bit more about why His sacrifice is so wonderful, and/or in various practical matters pertaining to these cups. God bless!

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