July 06, 2008 Q & A

Disposing of Communion Elements


What is the proper way to dispose of the communion elements? Is it okay to eat the bread after the service?


Thank you for your question to the OPC Q & A Web page.

For the OPC, the elements which we use in our communion service are but ordinary bread and wine. In other words, there is nothing sacred about them outside of the service. During the communion service, however, they are set apart for the special task of celebrating the sacrament of our Lord. Our Confession explains it this way:

Westminster Confession of Faith 29.3: "The Lord Jesus has, in [the Lord's Supper], appointed his ministers to declare his word of institution to the people; to pray, and bless the elements of bread and wine, and thereby to set them apart from a common to an holy use...."

Westminster Confession of Faith 29.5: "The outward elements in [the Lord's Supper], duly set apart to the uses ordained by Christ ... albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before...."

But after the service, those elements are ordinary bread and wine. Therefore, it seems to me, they may be put to common use. Certainly, we do not believe that the elements ever change in nature—as if the bread and the wine become the body and blood of Christ—so as to lead to a superstitious use (or non-use) of them outside of the communion service.

I hope this helps. Please feel free to follow up with me, should you need further clarification.



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