Grace and Peace to you Abiding Presence,
We are a community of faith in a new way. This global pandemic has disrupted our usual worship practice and there have been some concerns about communion. I want to address these and share with you why we are refraining from have “virtual communion.”
Each weekend we hear these words prior to coming forward to receive Holy Communion. “These are the gifts of God for the people of God. All is made ready, and all are welcome at this Lord’s Table.” When we proclaim “all are welcome” we express the open nature of this table. Anyone who comes to worship is free to receive, regardless of age, race, social status, sex, and even belief. What a gift this congregation offers to God’s people who gather around this table.
As we learn how to be a community of faith in a new way, people are gathering around phones, tablets, computers and TV screens to worship with others. Some of you can purchase wine and bread or crackers and grape juice, wanting these elements to be virtually blessed and consecrated through a video worship experience. Honestly, there is nothing theologically wrong with doing this. However, we run a risk of omitting some from a virtual table.
Our current reality has all of us home bound. Some live alone. Communion by its very nature is communal. Some physically cannot leave, others fearful of crowds, and some are too ill to be in public making even obtaining communion resources a hurdle or an obstacle. Others may not have the internet or devices to even worship with us. Meaning we very well may not be welcoming all to virtual communion.
The Good News is that Jesus is with us at every meal, not just the one we celebrate at Abiding Presence. Those words, “do so in remembrance” are meant for more than just unleavened wafers and wine. As often as we eat and drink, we remember our Lord’s life, death and resurrection making every meal a sacred event. Truly a gift of any table.
As we fast from communion in this difficult time, we are fed by the Word of God. Jesus is truly present in the reading, hearing, proclaiming and sharing of the Word. The Word of God fills us, nourishes us, and is the means of grace in our time apart. By grace we have been saved, not by any work we perform, or anything we do, and this includes taking communion as well.
Until we can safely return to worship together, we will continue to use the “Service of the Word” found in our ELW hymnal. In its introduction it states, “Gathered by the Holy Spirit, we hear and proclaim the saving word of God for all the world. We give thanks for that saving word and all the gifts of God, who then sends us to share the good news we have received and to care for those in need.”
Let us continue to care for those in need by staying home, staying 6 feet apart when you are out, and washing your hands regularly. Let us care for others by sharing God’s word electronically. Share each post, video, and worship experience so others may be fed by God’s word through you. Let us care for others by fasting from our usual communion practices until this community of faith can return to communally celebrate a foretaste of the feast to come, surrounding this Lord’s Table where all are welcome.
You are the Abiding Presence of Christ in the world, and together we are all learning what it means to be a community of faith, seeking God and serving others in new ways.