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Here Come the Communion Wafer Wars! (And You Thought Your Business Was Cutthroat?)

January 7, 2010

Churches across the land are all in a quandary upon the unfortunate onset of the H1N1 virus, which has presented some delicate logistical issues regarding the distribution of communion sacraments. The once-popular practice of passing around a loaf of whole-wheat organic artisan baked bread is no longer kosher, given the potential hand-to-hand spread of the virus (although I suppose the passing of the bread could be preceded with a healthy squirt of hand sanitizer).

To solve this problem, my own church, a fairly button-up Presbyterian number, has settled on passing out small squares of bread – the squishy kind that usually goes in to turkey stuffing recipes – as a substitute to the pass-around loaf. But not everyone in the congregation is satisfied with those tiny cubed morsels.

“Why don’t they try croutons?” my daughter suggested. She has a point: a crispy and sturdy square that is easily handled, distributed and consumed. Perhaps a flavored crouton could even be introduced at some point, if the pastors warmed up to the idea.

I tried to picture those viral-free croutons on Communion Sunday, being safely meted out from a holy dispensing unit into the congregant’s eager hands as they line up to receive the sacrament. Upon returning to their seats, the pastor would then instruct the congregation, in unison, to partake in the body of Christ.

“I think the crunch would be distracting,” I finally said after a couple moments of reflection. My 17 year-old daughter rolled her eyes, confirming once again that the old people are squelching all the good ideas in church these days.

Ours is not the only church looking for sanitary solutions to communion. In fact, Wired magazine reports that the H1N1 has spawned a holy innovation war of sorts in the communion business, with a lawsuit breaking out by the maker of a germ-free communion-wafer dispenser called the Communalabra

Check it out: according to the article, the Communalabra delivers unprecedented technology known as “the “rapid reload system” for fast wafer loading and the “quad-rotator technology” allowing up to 400 wafers to be dispensed without having to be refilled.”

This thing totally ROCKS!

The maker of this hallowed hi-tech device, however, is accusing its former president of patent infringement. (Honestly, I thought this irresistibly tasty story was relevant to my readers since it has all the elements of a blockbuster news story: the mash-up of strategy, spirituality, and scandal)

You can read more about the brouhaha surrounding the nifty Communalabra here.  Unfortunately, it sounds like his body really is broken.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 7, 2010 6:14 pm

    OK, you’ve got me laughing out loud with this one. Our church has those same squishy pieces of bread — must be a Presbyterian thing (or maybe they buy in bulk at Calvin’s Club, I mean, Sam’s Club). And I’ve heard, quite confidentially, that some churches still use the common cup! Imagine the reaction if we button-up Presbyterians tried that!

    Great post, my friend.

  2. January 7, 2010 6:33 pm

    Hilarious! Have you seen the communion taste test video Gordon made a few years ago? You gotta see this:

  3. January 7, 2010 8:04 pm

    that design is ok..but i was thinkin more along the lines of a nerf blaster.

  4. January 7, 2010 8:45 pm

    Given what the wine and wafer represent, hasn’t everyone gotten a little hysterical?

    Some months ago, I sent our priest a story about how the Italians were handling this, ahem, problem. I would look for the link but for the fact that there are now more than 104,000 hits on the subject of H1N1 and communion. The Italians’ solution, officially sanctioned, was a kind of fountain for dispensing the wine and thus eliminating the need to put lips to chalice. The accompanying picture needed no words.

    I’ll be sure to pass your post to our priest. She’ll enjoy the laugh.

    Personally, I rather liked your daughter’s idea. Think of all the flavors!

  5. January 8, 2010 10:00 am

    Love it – “whole-wheat organic artisan baked bread is no longer kosher.”

    I nearly flipped while holding the common cup the other day & a guy dipped his wafer up to his second knuckle. I’m with nAncY – blast those wafers into the congregation…. and BYOB. But remember the hymnals are probably a whole lot dirtier. (ewww)

  6. January 8, 2010 10:14 am

    officially germophobic.

  7. Michele Corbett permalink
    January 9, 2010 10:15 pm

    I serve communion a lot and you would be shocked at the amount of knuckles that get dunked. The worst part is that as the server, I have to go last! I think the preacher needs to encourage folks to take giant chunks of bread to avoid this issue.

  8. January 12, 2010 1:07 pm

    Our church uses the individual, disposable cups, stacked one on top of another. The bottom cup holds a tiny square of flat bread. The top one holds the “fruit of the vine.” They’re passed on a tray that admittedly is passed person to person, but both elements can be put in a person’s mouth without touching them.

    But if a germ-negating cup of silver were used, with real wine containing alcohol … Oh forget it. I won’t go there.

    Who knows how few germs might be a problem if we’d always remember to give thanks before we eat?

    “Nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” ~ 1 Timothy 4:4-5 NKJV

  9. Crystal Stoddard permalink
    January 26, 2010 9:52 am

    Personally, I like the whole idea of the nerf blaster! Could you imagine? I mean you could get 5000 points if you get a wafer in the mouth!

    Although in all honesty, maybe if people squirted the antiseptic gel before they got said wafer and such and a squirt after and maybe popped a multivitimin with the swallow of wine it would cover any possible germy that MIGHT think of invading their immune system. Of course if they were eating healthy, have a decent excersise or movement pattern to their life, they would be ok.

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