The Sacrament of Holy Communion in the Lesotho Evangelical Church
The Service of Holy Communion (Tsebeletso ea Selallo) in the Lesotho Evangelical Church is not held frequently. In most churches it might be held only a few times each year.
Consequently, it is always a special occasion, especially since two of the most common times it is held are at Easter and Christmas. On these occasions there will often be many baptisms, both infant and adult, reception of new members and reinstatement of members. In some churches, the entire parish (main church and a number of outstations) participate together.
Holy Communion is usually served towards the end of the regular service, though sometimes it is a separate service immediately afterwards. There is a set liturgy which is used including hymns, scripture, responses and prayers. The atmosphere is a sombre one of quiet observance and introspection. Usually communion is served in front to groups of twenty or so, depending on the space available. Members are ushered forward until the space is filled. As one group leaves and another comes forward, appropriate hymns are softly sung until the elements are served. Church elders serve the elements and as the bread is presented, followed thereafter by the passing of the common cup of wine, the pastor will read appropriate passages from scripture. When all in the group have been served, the pastor will read words of dismissal and then the next group is ushered forward.
After all members are served, the elders and pastor partake while the congregation continues singing hymns. After the service, or in the following week, the elderly and sick that were unable to attend will be served in their homes.
Communion is observed with solemnity and an appropriate awareness of the serious nature of a sacrament. Before members are called forward, the pastor gives a stern admonition to approach the table only if one has truly repented of his or her sins. Paul’s words of warning from I Corinthians 10:21 are read: “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.” Such is the impact of the pastor’s words that some members may not partake of the sacrament if they feel their heart and spirit are not right with the Lord at that time.
Mark Behle, a member of The Church of the Palms, United Church of Christ, Sun City, Arizona, serves the Lesotho Evangelical Church. He is a math and religion teacher at Masitise High School.