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Have You Ever Been Too Ashamed to Take Communion?

Have You Ever Been Too Ashamed to Take Communion?

Recently we were having Communion at church and I noticed that a woman across the aisle from me declined the communion elements as they came around. You have to ask yourself … why would she knock back this special time of just quietly remembering Jesus?

Well the most common reason is that from time to time, because of some recent sin, we feel too ashamed to participate in Communion. Maybe you’ve just had a great big blow-up with your husband or wife or one of your children. Perhaps it’s a sexual sin. Or you’ve just had such a rotten week that you know beyond any shadow of a doubt that you’re completely unworthy.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. (1 Cor 11:27)

Have you ever been there?

Let me share a story with you today … a story that Jesus Himself told, about two men who came to “church” with two totally different perspectives:

They went up to the temple to pray – one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed: ‘God, thank you that I’m not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 

But the tax collector, standing far off, wouldn’t even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’  

I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

So the next time you’re feeling a tad “unworthy” of Communion, please remember this tax collector. Because what Jesus is saying to us through this sinner, is that the moment there’s remorse in our hearts, then through our faith in Him, His blood washes us clean. The moment we’re truly sorry for what we did – though we’re too ashamed even to lift our eyes heavenward – we’re forgiven.

Don’t believe me? Then read the whole of what 1 Cor 11 says about communion. All that’s required here is that we examine our hearts to recognise our sin. Which of the two men in Jesus’ story did that?

And just in case you’re thinking that some great, eloquent prayer of repentance is required, remember that other sinner, the criminal who hung on the cross next to Jesus, who with a repentant heart gasped:

Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom. (Luke 23:42)

That’s all he had. That’s all it took. For Jesus replied:

Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise. (Luke 23:42)


  1. I am Greek Orthodox and we need to prepare ourselves before taking communion. We need to fast both from food and relations with our partner if we are married. We must go to confession, and take instructions from our priest as to how often we are to have communion. If we have sinned in a big way the priest may put a penance on us and we may be forbidden to take communion for a period of time. We must always go to confession. Taking communion without going to confession is a big sin and frowned upon.

  2. Boy how things have changed. I went to RC school as a child, we made our first Holy Communion first then confirmation (over 50yrs ago). I left God, but luckily He did not leave me! I had a believer’s baptism in March 2011 and I find it more humbling to admit my failings to Jesus Christ and I usually apologise as soon as I realise I have behaved in an unacceptable way, I then prepare myself and pray before participating in Communion. Only Jesus can give me peace in my heart when I sincerely confess and feel peace within that only Jesus Christ can bestow on us to feel free to partake of this most blessed event.

  3. Hmm yes agree with Barry, I’m Roman Catholic (confirmed by Cardinal George Pell – huge honor) and until we are confirmed we can’t receive communion, and when confirmed, if we feel like we have missed confession with a priest then we also won’t receive it until we do.

    I go to a church where most of the lay people are quite elderly but I find it a wonderful thing when I see 1 or 2 of them each week (inc me sometimes) not receiving communion. It means we know we need to acknowledge what we did some wrong and then repent. It’s a process that creates more good in this life.

    It shocked my priest when he asked me before I was confirmed whether or not I had received communion and I told him that I go to mass and then leave when that happens as I don’t feel worthy… he was surprised and then told me we are not supposed to until we are confirmed. That touched me.

    PS – There is nothing more humbling then telling a prest that you failed and that you want to be forgiven. The feeling when you leave is amazing.

    • A truly “different perspective” – thanks “M”


      • I have many times have sinned and secretly asked for forgiveness and found renewed peace and have taken communion with renewed joy.

  4. Perhaps she came from an Anglican or Roman Catholic background and has never been Comfirmed, so taking Communion is a NO NO! We used to say that they could come for a blessing and indicating this lack of Confirmation by keeping their hands down, it was very old school kind of Church.

    Of course she might just didn’t know what to do or say, lots of people don’t that are new to Church. I can see a training course coming

    • HI Barry,

      actually, she was a long time member of our church and someone who normally joins in communion. I guess that’s why this stood out so much for me.

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