I want to write to you about our communion practices now that we are worshipping in-person each week.
During the pandemic, we began a practice of communing ourselves at home, in front of our devices, allowing a pastor’s recorded voice to bless bread and wine or juice from our own cupboards. This unprecedented practice in an unprecedented time bore witness to a God who meets us in isolation, who is present in the bread in our cupboards and the juice in our fridges. It spoke to the truth of Psalm 23, that we have a God who sets a table for us in the presence of our enemies - even viral ones. I give thanks to Pastor Rick and the leadership who ensured that you had the body of Christ in such an isolating time.
While the pandemic continues, we are no longer in that time. We have returned to in-person worship and with that change, I ask you to transition your communion practices back to an in-person practice, which means that either you can commune in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings or, if you are not able to attend worship, myself or a deacon can come and bring you communion.
Our understanding of Holy Communion is that it is holy because of this mystical combination of Jesus’ words and promises, ordinary bread and wine, and the communion of saints gathered for worship. It becomes holy when two or three are gathered.
During the lock down, we were all in it together from home, gathered in an unprecedented, virtual way. Now that our primary mode of gathering is in-person, it is a best practice for us to return our communion gathering to that mode as well.
Everything we do in worship has implications for the way we live as Christians. When we make the intentional effort to gather, to break our (as opposed to my) bread together, when we have this public meal in our church, it has implications for how we live our faith. We are not people who eat of our own supply. We are people who share our supply. Communion is not something I do for myself, by myself but we do for each other, with each other. Communion puts the emphasis on us in a world that is pretty insistent upon me, it emphasizes service to each other rather than individual consumption.
The issue at stake, that I am charged as the pastor to always be mindful of is access to the table. The reason pastors steward the communion meal isn’t because we have magic hands but because the early church got into some bad habits of hoarding communion. The rich would gobble it up before the poor arrived, so the church made clergy the stewards of the meal in order to make sure that the meal was justly distributed.
When we couldn’t get together in person, virtual communion gave greatest access. Now that in-person gathering is possible, I am mindful that virtual communion requires you to have a computer and your own bread. Communion puts the emphasis on giving access to the marginalized in a world that often bars their access.
The end goal of communion is community. In case you were still communing at home, let’s return the practice to the gathered community. If you cannot come, we will bring the meal to you. If that also isn’t possible, know that when the church communes, you, as a part of the church, are nourished even if the bread does not touch your mouth. What goes into our communal body, nourishes each member therein.
Thank you and God’s peace be with you,