Holy Communion Aug 2

These past five months have brought challenges, fears, and suffering…and also some surprising joys. I am grateful for technology that allows many of us to stay connected even from the distance we must keep for the sake of safety. 
 
My heart has been filled by the networks of support within our congregation and the wider church…and among friends and family…who have found new ways to care for one another during these challenges. Our teachers and health care workers and so many others have continued to work tirelessly to help protect and support our communities.
 
Creativity has been on the loose. The Holy Spirit’s wing beats are being felt everywhere.
 
When it comes to the church’s ritual life, we don’t innovate without deliberation and deep respect for the strong foundation of history and tradition that has brought the church to this moment. But in this challenging time, we have learned and felt how God can be with us through means that were not imaginable to our ancestors in faith.
 
This has been especially true of worship – where God’s Word and the sacraments are central. The ELCA’s document describing our practices around the sacraments and scripture is called The Use of the Means of Grace, and it tells us that in Communion “the crucified and risen Christ is present, giving his true body and blood as food and drink. This real presence is a mystery” (Principle 23). And, “the gathered people of God celebrate the sacrament” (Principle 39).
 
Communion is God’s Real Presence, shared among God’s gathered people. Often in worship we also hear how the mystery of Christ’s true presence becomes embodied in us – that we receive Christ’s body and blood and through this meal become the Body of Christ, sent out into the world.
 
It is truly a mystery how Christ is present in this meal. And we feel that mystery more deeply now…as our presence with one another in worship has become more mysterious…spread across far distances…connected via technologies that allow us to be in community with one another.
 
Even when we are not within the same four walls, we are gathered…around Scripture and prayer and song. It has been a beautiful mystery. We trust that this gathering is strong and true enough, that God will come and be present in it now in Communion as well. Of course, we would prefer (and we look forward to) the time when we can be together within the same four walls to pray, praise, and receive this meal.
 
But after careful discernment, we believe that we can trust the mystery of God’s presence in our gathering, even as we are spread across farther distances.
 
We will share communion through online worship on August 2. So that we can share this meal together at the same time, it will be available as a continuation of our usual Sunday worship pattern…and you will be able to join in one of two ways. 1) You may switch from your usual worship platform to zoom, where there will be a live video call that those worshipping can join. Or, 2) If you worship through Facebook live, you may remain on Facebook…but you will have to switch to a new video after the Sharing of the Peace.
So…you can stay in the same place but switch to a new video feed.
 
We will work hard to make this transition as clear and hospitable as possible. Doing worship this way will allow us to have communion at the same time together, and still have a worship video archived online for those that might join later in the week. It has been our discernment that sharing communion together at the same time will help us underscore the importance of being gathered together, even as we are spread out in geographical space. So to participate in that part of the service, you will need to be at worship on Sunday morning.
 
You will be invited to bring elements to the meal to be blessed and received. On July 26, if you come by the church, you will be given a small bottle of wine or juice, if that is not something you normally keep at home…as well as a small package of dry ingredients and a recipe to bake an individual portion of bread. These elements will also be delivered to people’s homes the week of July 26, if you aren’t able to come to the donation event at church.
 
If you find yourself without these elements when the time for communion comes, you can use bread or a simple cracker and wine or grape juice from home. If you only have one element, we trust God will be present in whatever you have. If you have any questions about appropriate elements to use, feel free to ask. But, above all, we know that it is not what we do or bring that effects God’s presence…It is God’s loving choice to nourish us and claim us as God’s own. And we lean on that promise. Whatever you have, God will make it enough and more than enough.
This is true in small things and large. And for that we give thanks.
 
In Peace,
Pastor Carolyn