Worship and Communion in a Pandemic

I am leading a study for my home congregation on “Being the Body of Christ in a Socially Distant World.” We are considering the ways in which the pandemic has challenged our habits of being church, but we also are talking about the new practices we have discovered that may be useful to our ministry and fellowship even when this present darkness is behind us. This coming week, we will be talking about virtual worship, particularly the virtual practice of Communion, or the Lord’s Supper. The following are resources I assembled to give them food for thought on the subject. Perhaps they will be useful to some of you as well.

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Take a look at these five short and accessible articles wrestling with the impact of COVID-19 on Christian worship, especially the celebration of Communion.

  1. An NPR story that confirms that much of our experience with virtual church—good and bad—is being felt by churchgoers all over the country:

https://www.npr.org/2020/05/20/858918339/things-will-never-be-the-same-how-the-pandemic-has-changed-worship

2. A Lutheran makes the argument for why we should not do the Lord’s Supper at home during the pandemic. Does his argument hold if we don’t subscribe to the Lutheran understanding of Communion? What is the Lutheran understanding? Wait—what is our understanding of Communion?

https://logia.org/logia-online/faith-love-and-the-lords-supper-in-the-pandemic2020

3. An “advisory opinion” of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on whether it is appropriate to celebrate Communion virtually. Try to read past all of the polity references (i.e., who has authority) to understand what the meaning of the Lord’s Supper normally is in this denominational tradition, and how it can be justified virtually in times of pandemic. Does this perspective from the UCC’s “cousin” in Reformed Christianity help us think about our practice?

https://www.pcusa.org/site_media/media/uploads/oga/pdf/advisory_opinion_communion_in_an_emergency_or_pandemic.pdf

4. A theological historian argues how a 13th-century Catholic theologian might help us think about the Lord’s Supper in pandemic:

https://garynealhansen.com/lords-supper-and-the-coronavirus-wisdom-st-thomas-aquinas/?fbclid=IwAR0LzPxI1XkNrUeSi7V4l9KMfJQmYe-t-HTTp93VIeG0eKIQ2tqZ3wXXZ-U

5. Finally, a “plague song” written by Protestant Reformer Ulrich Zwingli when he was struggling with his own pandemic experience:

https://phs-app-media.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/RefSunday_full_2020.pdf

Character as Social Witness

I had the great pleasure this past Sunday of celebrating World Communion Sunday with Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany, NY. The topic of my sermon was “Character as Social Witness.” The service was particularly meaningful because joining us at the Table was Rev. Akrong from Westminster’s partner congregation—Greenwich Meridian Church—in Tema, Ghana. Thanks to the Rev. Heather Kirk-Davidoff for the invitation to be part of this meaningful service:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEqXbsJcK54