6 Replies to ““Remote” communion for Maundy Thursday or Easter”

  1. Regarding palms in response to your faux palm cross…

    I had forgotten to cancel our order for palm fronds. Friday I phoned the florist, and told him that if he had obtained them for the church I would still pay for them, even though we were not meeting for worship.

    He responded by telling me that with most of the suppliers shut down, he never got any palm fronds, so we were off the hook. And even for the little business he is still getting, he has very few fresh flowers to work with. Mostly locally grown daffodils, and some hot house calla lilies.

    Which I am sure is a terrible way to live when this business is your livelihood.

    More to say later about the communion rite.

  2. So I’m also wondering if this could be adapted for a kind of take-home, with instructions for each household to celebrate at a given time? Say, “We ask everybody to celebrate at 11 AM on Sunday.” A kind of low-tech distribution.

  3. I suppose you run into issues of ecclesiology at some point – what is the congregation who are participating?

    Is this just a way that an existing physical congregation who normally meet together can continue to worship and celebrate the sacraments during a temporary restriction?

    Because I think these restrictions will be with us for a while – quite possibly a long while. Long enough to be thinking about congregations not just marking time but actually living in a physical distant world.

    (Sacraments are only going to be part of that of course!)

    As a thought experiment, if a minister did a video of a suitable rite and made it available, and said, all who wish get some bread and wine and at a suitable time on Easter Sunday play the video and celebrate remotely, would that push the model too far?

  4. Demas – I think video vrs. print instructions, it would depend on the ecclesiology. At the Protestant end where there is a very robust priesthood of all believers, it would pose no problem. But for my Anglican and Lutheran family members, both would violate basic theologies about the role/nature of the ordained clergy, and physical continuity with the materials being blessed. And in all cases it would also eventually raise thorny theological questions about why Christian community ever needs to be physically together at all. If the virtual is just as good, why physically meet at all.

    I do think that in any case there is fertile ground for Christians to explore our practices from the angle/experience of Judaism; which has a number of observances that are more home/family, than they are synagogue-based. For example, even a small family can/would/should celebrate Passover together in their home.

    But your pre-recorded video idea, is a fascinating thought exercise to engage in.

  5. I’m sure you are right about “the thorny theological questions about why Christian community ever needs to be physically together at all. If the virtual is just as good, why physically meet at all.”

    I think this is going to be a very real live question now. For context, where I am at least (Australia), I am hopeful that we will be able to hold a Christmas service. But I can see all churches closed for at least 6 months, if not longer. There will be many Christian communities which will not be able to physically meet together, no matter how desirable.

    This is going to accelerate the decline of the mainline denominations here, which were ageing in any case. There will be large numbers of churches that do not reopen, and the decline will be disproportionately in the denominations which have traditionally sheltered more liberal voices.

    Your point about Judaism is very interesting, and I like your approach of exploring our own practices in the light of their experience – learning but avoiding tone-deaf appropriation.

  6. As a seminary student almost 20 years ago, I did a Church History research paper (which I can no longer find) looking at records from the Universalist Church of Ohio. I was looking for trends in church closure. There was a significant spike in closures after 1918. It was difficult to attribute exact causes for the closures, but at the time I strongly suspected a combination of disruptions related to World War 1 (the death of theological optimism); and deaths as a result of the flu pandemic disrupting congregational populations.

    I also remember a few other things. Large churches did not seem immune to closure. Today I can speculate about the distinct vulnerabilities of large churches. Small churches did not seem destined for closure. Today I can speculate about the adaptability of small churches. But size was not destiny. There also seemed to be a few indications that congregations with endowments and/or buildings that were fully paid for, seemed more likely to survive. Geographically isolated congregations that could not pull on the resources of circuit-riding preachers seemed more vulnerable to closure.

    There was so much there that deserved further, rigorous exploration. But it should give all of us pause. Over the long haul I fully expect a good number of churches to close permanently across the next 12 months.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.