So, I was working up the next installment of my series about using a portable communion set when the coronavirus outbreak created a very long and stressful week. (As you well know.) And this was just the beginning for the United States, western Europe and Australia where most of my readers come from.
Churches and temples of all kinds have closed, at least for this weekend, and for many at least through the end of March. We might still be under some kind of restriction through Holy Week and Easter (April 12) now. That’s a hard thought, but people have had to manage living with epidemics before, and it’s during difficult times that you learn to make alterations and concessions that both keep people safe and fulfill religious desires and duties. This weekend we’ll see a new flowering of online services. What’s next? Perhaps a renaissance of mainstream religious broadcasting?
But with Holy Week (specifically Maundy Thursday) and Easter, you have communion services. Unlike the long-televised Catholic mass “for shut-ins” there’s not much of a custom for broadcasting the Lord’s Supper, at least not at the Reformed end where we come from. In part because, apart from the Campbell-Stone traditions — it’s still a “special service,” a break from the normal Sunday preaching service. The Lord’s Supper, too, is felt but low Reformed administration of the ordinance isn’t much to look at if you’re not in the middle of it. You might ordinarily broadcast a sermon, but not the sacrament.
So, what to do without risking the spread of a deadly illness? I wanted to introduce the thought, and in short order review the history and map out some options. Publishing this, to make some momentum…
One Reply to “Communion and COVID-19: limitations and options”
Small note. Last Sunday I went to mass with my husband at his Episcopal church. This was in the stage when groups of 50 and under were still permissable with distant seating and frequent hand washing.
Communion was “in one kind”, with wafers dropped from the priest’s hand into the hands of each communicant. Others (like me) chose to recieve a blessing. It was the priestly blessing from Numbers. Which felt appropriate for a people going out into “the wilderness”.
My own pastoral Friends meeting will restore some limited worship when local travel restrictions are lifted. But it likely will only be 10 people at a time, seated at distant locations in the meetinghouse, conducted different days apart, on an abreviated service format, and by reservation only (so we can screen out congregants we know to be in high risk categories [age, cardiac problems, respiratory problems, kidney problems, recovering from surgery, recovering from other illness, etc.]).