A number of you have asked about ‘virtual communion’ or having the Lord’s Supper separately in homes while watching worship on the internet. Many have seen churches holding internet services having people in their homes take crackers and juice/wine for communion. Can we do this too?
Our theology prevents us from doing this. Churches have different understandings of Holy Communion: Remembering or the Real Presence.
Many stress remembering – Jesus said ‘Do this to remember me.’ So when some churches celebrate the Lord’s Supper, they are primarily remembering what Jesus did for us in his death and resurrection. With this understanding, virtual communion makes sense. Remembering Jesus.
But Lutherans, along with Roman Catholics and Anglicans, have a sacramental understanding. We believe in the ‘real presence’. We take Jesus at his word when he says, ‘This is my body’. Through ordinary bread and wine (and water in Baptism) the Lord does something extraordinary. Jesus gives us his very self. Not virtually or symbolically, but really. He is really present for us in, with, and under the bread and wine as we are really, physically gathered around his table.
We are a Word and Sacrament church. We hear the spoken Word preached and we see, taste, and touch the visible Word in Holy Communion. We long to gather together at the same table, yet we wait until we are able.
As restrictions are gradually lifted, we will gather again. We are already beginning to think of what that may look like: social distancing in the sanctuary, perhaps in smaller groups, etc. In the meantime, we will continue to worship online, hear His spoken Word, giving us life and hope, and wait for the feast to come.
God Bless you all,