Now that churches have figured what zoom is and your pastor is a livestreaming pro there everything is fine right? Well, not quite. Even if your pastor isn’t the sharpest theological tool in the box they’ll know that communion may require a little more thought than usual.
Bobby Jamieson suggests it might not be possible at all:
The Lord’s Supper enacts the church’s unity. It consummates the church’s oneness. It gathers up the many who partake of the same elements together, in the same place, and makes them one. (So if baptism binds the one to the many, the Lord’s Supper makes the many one.) So to make the Lord’s Supper into something other than a meal of the whole church, sitting down together in the same room, is to make it something other than the Lord’s Supper. So, it’s not the case that a virtually mediated, physically dispersed Lord’s Supper is less than optimal: it’s simply not the Lord’s Supper.https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/baptism-lord-supper-online/
How would you respond? If you’re worshipping in different places but on zoom are you worshipping together? If you’re eating different meals but at the same time are you really eating together? And for the more liturgically lax low-churches will anyone miss it? Here’s a test: note how many days it is before the first member of your church says, “I really miss communion”. The longer the gap, the poorer the state of the sacraments in your church.
Which Mark Galli reckons is sadly true in far too many churches.
The state of the Lord’s Supper is in a worse state. I’ve lost track of the number of startup evangelical churches—again, who are sincerely seeking to reach the world for Christ—whose practice of Communion is frankly a sacrilege. One has to give them credit for, yes, seeking out the lost and taking down unnecessary cultural/religious barriers. And one has to also praise them for at least offering Communion. But in many churches, it is something that is presented during the offering, at a small table holding crackers and juice on the side aisles for those who feel so led to partake. Sometimes this is accompanied by the words of institution, but sometimes it is not.
The idea of Communion—of the body of Christ participating with one another in an ordinance of their Lord— is completely lost. Not to mention the loss of any concerted effort by worship leaders to highlight why the sacrament is a central feature of Christian life.https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/july-web-only/whatever-happened-to-communion-baptism.html
So having been convicted that we’ve undervalued the importance of communion what can we do?
Well think about these ten things:
- We partake of the Lord’s Supper as embodied beings
- The Lord’s Supper reminds us we depend on God for sustenance
- The Lord’s Supper can be a model for our everyday suppers
- Christ is present in the Lord’s Supper through the Spirit
- The Lord’s Supper is a way to commune with Christ
- The Lord’s Supper is a reminder
- The Lord’s Supper offers assurance of pardon
- The Lord’s Supper invites God to keep his covenant promise
- The Lord’s Supper shapes our character
- The Lord’s Supper looks ahead
We should think about this question: What does Holy Communion do for us? we should think about being clear about the two cups and we should think about how we look at the table.
If you want some readings and other communion resources you can find some here.