April 8, 2020 by Worship, Community, Formation
The ‘rules’ of communion assume something that today we don’t have.
That thing is a gathered community.
We may not now gather. And this absence has broken the Eucharist as we exercised it until last month. For all the talk of spiritual communion, Eucharistic worship is currently lost. Not because it must be lost in these times, but because the rules of communion do not recognise the reality in which we now find ourselves.
The reality we have not yet faced is the question of where the church is.
Where now is the true place of gathering, such as there is?
Where now is the place of discipleship?
Where now is the place of good works?
Where now is the heart of the faith?
It is where the Christians are: in their homes.
Our homes, and not the old stone church, are now the centre of the faith. It is in our homes that we are doing our discipleship, our remembering, our prayer, our spiritual connecting. It is most often the home, and the houses and the street around the home. It is in their own local communities that Christians are doing most of their work.
So tell me, where should the bread and wine be? The answer is obvious: they should be on a table in front of those who receive Christ into their hearts. Our reverence, our hope, our love, our needs, our brokenness are in our homes. Our hearts, our minds, our bodies – they are all in our homes.
If God can make bread and wine mean something to us, God can do that in our homes. If God can bless us, God can bless us anywhere.
Actually, for me, this is not about losing the priesthood. I do not wish to receive bread that is not blessed. But I do think that if a priest can pronounce them blessed, s/he can pronounce them blessed from somewhere else. The care and protection and poetry and hope of liturgy need to be kept; but they need to be changed. Indeed they may be more essential than ever!
The question that matters is not about where wine and bread are blessed. It is about where they are received. If spiritual communion is to mean anything, surely it means that the blessing can reach the bread and wine; not that the bread and wine can somehow reach the communicant?
Without this, or another even more trusting and faithful response, the church looks like an institution with rules, rather than a loving, living community of hope.