After about two years, I have added a new liturgical element: the shorter communion service, meant to be used “immediately after the Order of Morning Worship” and with the unusual option for “no distribution of the elements.”
This last option was once more usual for Unitarians than you might suspect. The service was conceived in spiritual terms, and in a creative alternative to individual glasses in the generation after fears — precipitated by typhoid — of infection.
The practice — a non-distributed or “spiritual” communion — deserves consideration.
- “Embodied theology” — so much the darling of liberal theologians of the last generation — is showing its age, or at least its station, and this is the force that would resist a spiritalized view of the sacrament. Most of the people I know are well aware of their corporality, but the spirit is elusive. “Embodiment” and “messy theology” is a misplaced complaint.
- Add allergies and the rejection of beverage alcohol to infection (and compromised immune systems) by many and you get a communion service where the elements themselves become a problem. This solves that.
- I’ve met real, live Unitarian Universalists who blanch at the “cannibalism” of Communion. A spiritual service lowers a barrier.