Our Shared Sense of Longing
When this pandemic started, we had no idea how long we might be waiting to gather again in person. And even while we connect through phone calls, emails and online videos, our community longs for more. We ask God for more; we ask for more reminders of God’s grace and our unity as the Body of Christ. As we continue through these times where things keep changing daily, new questions about our sacraments, that we believe are the means of grace, have come up. Questions specifically about online Holy Communion have been asked. In Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, he outlines the importance of sharing the Lord’s Supper in community after confessing our sins while praising God for the gift of grace in, with and under the meal.
And so, we have been waiting to share the holy meal until our community was able to gather together again in person, as one face-to-face community. But the longing in our hearts to share in the meal together has grown. Paul talks about making sure that the reverence of the Lord’s Supper is upheld. I like how the Message put it in 1 Cor. 11 27-28. “Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death.” Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of?
Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe. I think that is what we have been trying to do as we wait to share the sacrament. We want to make sure we are reverent in our remembrance of this meal. Martin Luther, in the Large Catechism, talks a lot about the faithful longing one feels inside for the Lord’s Supper. I believe that is what people in our congregation who asked for communion are feeling – that longing. And I wonder how many more are feeling that longing even more now with all this hurt and fear surrounding us because of the pandemic, the economy, the protests. I was comforted by these words of Luther, “If, therefore, you are heavy-laden and feel your weakness, then go joyfully to this Sacrament and obtain refreshment, consolation, and strength.” (Large Catechism, 72).
I feel heavy-laden and weak right now and I wonder how many others do too. And we sure could use God’s refreshment, comfort and strength to carry on the work of the Spirit in our hurting world. Logistically sharing communion is challenging with a congregation our size virtually and there is a real possibility we are going to make mistakes, but Holy Communion is a tangible sign of God’s love and grace for us and it can help refresh our spirits. This is not because of us at all; this is what God does for us, especially when we are weary. Luther reminds us that those who administer the sacraments cannot mess it up, which makes me believe that we can’t mess it up even if we do at-home internet Holy Communion. I understood this before, as I saw other congregations gathering in this way, but we were hesitant to share the meal because of the size of our congregation and not wanting to leave anyone out. I know this is a change from what we have been doing these past couple months in worship and yes, we would still rather be together in person to share in Holy Communion. The Good Shepherd Staff is thinking through ways to make sure we try our best that no member of our church family will be left out. I am grateful to be a part of a church community that doesn’t just act, but prays and thinks and discusses thoughtfully.
You are invited along with our whole gathering church community to share Holy Communion on June 14 during our online worship. We will have more information for you soon about how to prepare an altar table in your home, a recipe for communion bread and how to involve children in this meal.
Pastor Dara Schuller-Hanson