Which Verb Do You Use?

Holy Communion is our means of reaffirming our covenant with the King.  It is my most treasured symbol in Christianity.

There are so many layers of meaning, so many rich facets to the message that 2,000 years after the Lord first presented it to His Apostles, we have not come close to exhausting the truths woven into it.

The Anglican tradition has people come to the front of the church to receive the Eucharist from the Rector.  The custom is for each person to place on hand on top of the other, palm up as the Rector places the symbol in their hand.

The express purpose for this gesture is because they want to emphasize that Holy Communion is received, not taken.

Such a monumental message from such a small nuance.

This one posture — taking or receiving — has endless implications to the whole of our theology.

And it is a huge statement about our contemporary culture that when I did a Yahoo search for “receive Communion” it came up with 200,000 hits while “take Communion” generated 53 million hits.

Hmmm . . .

Copyright October 2012 by Arthur Burk

From home on a relaxed, contemplative Saturday

This entry was posted in The Kingdom of God, Worship. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Which Verb Do You Use?

  1. Vincent says:

    My opinion: both are Scriptural, both are beautiful aspects of the Kingdom. We receive by faith, we take by faith (“lay hold of it”, I like that, Al). About Holy Communion, I would say I commune with Christ. I eat His flesh and drink His blood. I feel more in an attitude to receive with gratitude that to take, it’s true. I “take” the benefits of the communion, but I commune with the Person.
    Another idea: to take speaks about faith, to receive about grace.

  2. desireewoody says:

    Ah! I hear my German, old school pastoral mentor over the staff meeting table exclaiming “You receive an offering! You NEVER take an offering!” For me, the analogy stands for communion too! (I do like “experiencing communion” the best though).

  3. Noeleen says:

    Thank you for the encouragement to think about this. I grew up going to an Anglican church and I remember listening for the collects – they had such beautiful language. I was trying to remember one which talked about God being more willing to give than we are to receive and so I had a look for it. I think it may be the collect for the twelfth Sunday after Trinity – slightly different to how I remembered, ‘Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear that we to pray and to give more than we desire or deserve, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask but through the merit and mediation of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever.’ I found it on the Church of England website. I ‘received’ communion on Sunday but I would always have used the word ‘take’. This has reminded me to be more aware of what God is giving so that I can be thankful.

  4. Scott Cross says:

    If I understand the question correctly, I partake in the Passover rememberence we call communion, The Lord’s supper…. As He was participating in horning the Passover meal and partaking of it I choose to do the same.

    • Arthur Burk says:

      Actually, no. The Lord’s Supper is not the same as Passover.

      • Scott Cross says:

        I am interested to hear your take on why they are not the same? But I still Partake as it is interactive…

        Definition of PARTAKE – intransitive verb (m-w.com)
        1: to take part in or experience something along with others
        2: to have a portion (as of food or drink)
        3: to possess or share a certain nature or attribute

        • Arthur Burk says:

          Christianity has been enormously rights oriented. We do not have the right to demand a covenant with Christ. He came, while we were yet sinners, and made a way for us to receive. And even then, we lack the ability to choose to receive. No one comes to Christ unless the Father draws him. The issue is that in the place of utter condemnation, when we had no ability or right to reach out and negotiate a covenant with God, He sent His Son, and offered us salvation with a covenant.

  5. Annatjie Laurie says:

    For the past about 15 years I ‘receive’ communion every morning. To me it is communion with Jesus, my King. I experience His nearness and love every time I partake of it. I don’t suppose it is meant only to be ‘taken’ in a church. I have often felt sorrow when communion is ‘taken’ in church, for me it is no ritual, it is an experience of fellowship with my Lord and I wonder if it brings honour to Him if we ‘take’ it as a ritual. I am blessed by it because I ‘receive’ His Body and Blood.

  6. Julia Smith says:

    We also share communion…..so much more every time we explore Thanks Arthur

  7. Grace says:

    I come from a background that takes communion. Communion as a ritual had been losing it’s meaning for me for some time now. Not that I don’t appreciate what it represents, but I’m not generally a fan of rituals. These thoughts, however, breathe new life, new imagery, into communion for me. Thanks.

  8. Katie Gardiner says:

    I was raised in a Baptist church body so we picked up the elements off of trays.It was our choice after confessing Christ as savior,so with desire to draw near I pursued and chose to take it.But it was not a forceful thing on my part or those offering but a passion and desire to be healed and like Him through faith in receiving His free gift.Receiving is good too, to accept the gift ,which that verb helps one see that it is ,and seems to require humility.But a caution here,to me,would be to me,that it is a heart choice and not just rote or ritual,being fully conscious of what this signifies,why you are doing it,and adding faith to the work. Not law,but understanding “why” we do it and its spiritual significance,by faith-what it is intended to accomplish “in” us.

  9. j7david says:

    In scripture were have the last supper recorded by all four of the Gospel writers. Three of them record the giving of instructions for what we call “communion”. These three Gospel writers all record Yeshua as saying “take”.
    Concerning the bread: Matthew records “Take, eat; this is my body.” Mark records “Take, this is my body.” and concerning the cup: Luke records “Take this and divide it among yourselves.” But the real surprise is John, who spends five chapters out of twenty one documenting that last supper. There is no mention of the communion portion of the supper. Humm
    Now for me, I feel for more comfortable with the term receiving. However in my analyzes of the text it would seem that his death and resurrection has been both given and received by those who call him “Lord and Master” it yet remains to be taken into our lives.

    • anthonytanjoco says:

      Mt. 26:26 “Take(lambano), eat…”
      Mk. 14:22 “Take(lambano)…”
      Lk. 22:17-20 “Do(poieo)…” {I also find it interesting that the order with the cup being divided first, then the bread, and finally back to the illustration on the cup.}
      Jn. 13 thru 17 {diddo, he doesn’t even get into the ceremony details…}

      -and let’s not forget 1 Cor. 11:23-26, which is in the similar vein as the Luke account.

      My conclusion: Jesus was giving; Disciples were taking.

      I don’t think the semantics here, though, is the heart of the issue…

      Are we talking about the difference between “life-givers” and “life-suckers” (rather life-sucking leaches who never give no matter how large the deposit)?

      Jesus is giving -they are receiving…then He tells them to “Do this…” The disciples now have a living example/model of how they can give to others -especially since they have first received something from the Lord to now be able to give out. I compare this to Jesus giving them the loafs and fish -then they got to distribute and see the miracle take place with their own hands to the multitude.

      I contrast the communion bit to Peter’s reaction to Jesus wanting to wash his feet that night. (Jn. 13) ESV
      Peter: “Lord, do you wash my feet?”
      Peter: “You shall never wash my feet?”
      Jesus: “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”
      Peter: “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

  10. Ellen Cooke says:


    I am listening again to your bride prayers……… am wondering about the other “brides and bridegrooms” and how they are doing…….

    Thanks much for you care and concern,




    • Arthur Burk says:

      No significant movement, Ellen.

      • Keri-Lee says:

        I have been listening to the Brides’ prayers for the first time now (and wondered the same thing!). All I can say is that it has been such a blessing to me, especially in feeling my spirit respond in healing, and reaching out to Father in ways I couldn’t before. And it was perfect Father-timing, as He has only recently revealed to me that I had womb-wounds. I am grateful to Him for revealing these hidden truths, and to you, Arthur, for being obedient.

  11. I have always said “receive”, but never thought about the implication. Since giving my life to Christ I have attended primarily Foursquare churches but was raised Episcopal. I have a Book of Common Prayer and sometimes enjoy pulling it out just to read and enjoy the beauty of the services. I think I will pull it out and delightfully marinate in this one for awhile 🙂

  12. ruthann777 says:

    I usually say “take”. But now I realize I want to say “receive” and begin to really understand the difference, and let the layers go deeper as I realize what God has done for me, in all things I want to receive as it is a much better verb in my opinion. Thanks

  13. I think that this differentiation is huge, and goes back to the idea of where we start in the first place. We must receive from the King before we can give. As you have mentioned in various teachings, there is a lot of twisted theology out there that is based on the idea that we give before we receive. The idea of “taking” bumps that up a whole ‘nother level. It makes me think of Adam and Eve in the Garden and the temptation to take what the serpent said God hadn’t given them. And then even farther back than that, Lucifer wanted to take from God because he didn’t think he had been given enough either. When we start to forget where we came from, that we are first of all, the result of Someone Else’s creativity, and secondly that we are not to take but to receive, I think we begin to buy into the same attitude that caused Lucifer to fall.

    • anthonytanjoco says:

      Megan, I agree that we must receive before we give…and certainly a “scarcity mentality” causes people to ‘take’ with great greed and entitlement out of perceived lack…

      What if we look at this from a sonship perspective…

      I stock the frig so that my family can raid it when they like…because it belongs to them as part of the family. I WANT them to raid the frig -that’s why I stocked it in the first place. Sure there are the problems when one of the kids forgets to close the door -or even messes (both in and out of the frig). Then there are the occasional notifications of “Hey, we are out of Almond milk.” Or even the request of “Can we get chocolate milk next time?” I don’t recall, though, any demands that had an ungrateful, entitled, “go get this for me because I say so” attitude…I do recall, though, times of going to the frig with munchie expectations -only to find that the last piece of pumpkin pie was gone! (sorry, I digress..)

      As sons and daughters of the King, we have the wonderful privilege to boldly go (where no man has gone before) before Him and partake of what He’s giving out.

      Is the heart of the issue whether to be passive or active before Father?
      Do we “press in”, “lay hold”, suffer the Kingdom violence, seize what is rightfully ours?
      Do we wait for the King to extend His sceptre?
      What really is the protocol before the King for His kids?

  14. Al says:

    Interesting question. “Receiving” is a picture where the movement is toward us and we are given something. “Taking”, however, is a picture where we move toward something and lay hold of it; almost with the underlying impression that it belongs to us. How often, even in my own journey, have we as the body of Christ had difficulty “Receiving” from God; whether from Father, Jesus, or Holy Spirit.
    Yet we have no problem running the gauntlet of religious requirements to lay hold of (take) the prize that we believe we have rightfully earned, thereby totally missing the generosity, mercy, and lovingkindness the gift was intended to convey from God.
    Take or Receive; I’m learning more and more how to take from the enemy and receive from the Father.

  15. Ellen Cooke says:

    The church I attend uses the word “receive” and “take”………I have heard them both used. I like the idea of “experience.”

  16. Elise says:

    Hmm…take or receive? Can I choose a different verb? If I could choose any verb, I would choose experience – I want to experience communion. I just simply want freedom to experience communion with Jesus.

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