So, communion. I’d better start writing down these thoughts before the pandemic chips all the options away. I’d like to show there are options for regular, Maundy Thursday and Easter communion services.
My thinking has gone from we can be especially hygienic, to perhaps we can hold the service outside, to perhaps we can have walk-by distribution with social distancing and now I don’t think any public, in-person service is likely to be safe by Easter. Safety in distribution has long been a communion ethical concern, especially among Protestants, so this isn’t exactly a new thought. And even if we (collectively) don’t refrain, it’s possible civil authorities might stop any meaningful gathering.
If I can, I’ll show some of my influences later, but as of March 26, 2020, I think these are the best options for a communion service to minimize risk for communicants and presiding ministers. Please comment, because I’ll spell out the effective conduct for those options that grab your attention.
There are four likely options:
- The pastor, and perhaps any other ordained ministers of the church, presiding over communion at home, praying for the congregation and informing them of this.
- The church having a service of spiritual communion by phone or video conference; that is, a guided visualization which expresses the desire for communion, using the rite (text) for communion, but without the elements or any physical artifacts. It may also take on elements of a eucharistic fast, paradoxically, to stir desire and make the consummation (the return to normal communion practice) that much richer.
- The church having a “purely symbolic” communion service, by video conference where participation by the laity in by observation and prayer. The presiding minister (who might broadcast from home or church) might or might not commune by mouth.
- The church having a distributed service where communicants provide their own bread and wine, and are led remotely by the minister. More akin to some prayer breakfasts, but with people at home. This assumes the “lowest” ecclesiology of any option.
#1 needs no special technology as such. Only #3 absolutely requires a video broadcast. #3 and #4 are not mutually exclusive.
I can hear you saying “I don’t like any of those.” Fine, but these are the options I can think of, unless you count “don’t do it” or “risk infecting your people” as good options, and I don’t.
Please comment and, as I said above, we can work though the details. (Don’t comment minimizing the pandemic because I will delete those.)