Let me be clear from the outset I have no particular problem with consuming the elements immediately after the service. I don't see any objection to feeding the bread to the birds either, or pouring the wine back into the bottle, although there seem to be hygiene considerations here.
My problem with the report I referred to yesterday is the assumption that there is one correct interpretation of communion. I fully appreciate we need to consider the sensibilities of those who believe differently from us but that means we need to be clear about what we're doing out of conviction and what is to protect the sensibilities of others.
I have shared this problem with several congregations in my circuit and I was surprised by the results. I asked two questions:
What does Communion mean to you? The answer was universally fellowship with each other and with Jesus. When I raised the cosmological dimensions everyone said 'yes and that as well'.
How do you feel when you are not able to take communion (in an ecumenical context)? Again the answer was (I paraphrase) 'we can't see what all the fuss is about although we wouldn't want to change the way we do it'.
So, it seems most Methodists believe Jesus is in the fellowship rather than the bread and wine. They are not alone in this, I believe Lutherans take a similar view.
The problem we have, if I am right, is in general the Church of England believes in the real presence of Jesus in the bread and wine. For Methodist lay people, it doesn't matter there are multiple cups because Jesus is in the fellowship. The wine is spilt? Someone will fetch a cloth. Bread left over? Birds or bin; communion's over there's nothing to worry about.
There are two subtle, interlocking issues here. One is the theology of communion. This is a massive topic. We have to face up to the fact there are dozens of interpretations of communion. To reconcile two interpretations, on the assumption they represent the spectrum of beliefs in two complex traditions such as the Methodist and Anglican churches is not really addressing the issue at all.
The other issue is the question of ecumenical reception. To insist upon changes to our practices, and by implication our theological understanding of those practices, is an exercise in dialogue within traditions. Note the word 'dialogue'. However top down a tradition's ecclesiology might be, it is difficult to change people's beliefs through a simple declaration that there will be a change. Reception takes place through dialogue; this is not a preference on my part, it is an observation of how things are. The fundamental distinction between Methodists and Anglicans is not in their beliefs about communion but in their understanding of how decisions are made, their ecclesiology. For Methodists Conference agrees these matters as a result of hundreds of conversations in local churches.