Thank you for all your many kind comments on our first video offering of the Eucharist. I am very grateful to those who took part, especially Dave Spendio for his technical expertise in creating the worship video. Our intention is to make this a regular, weekly posting on YouTube.
A number of people have also said to me how much they are missing church, which at this particular time is both heartening and sad to hear, as it points to the fact that we are basically social creatures who need the company of others. Church provides a community where friendships are formed and life’s meaning can be found in the rich life of worship, prayer and service.
Note that there is a distinction to be made: we are primarily a friendly church, rather than a church of friends. St Barnabas’ Church is first and foremost God’s house, where the faithful gather to praise and glorify God with their worship, music and prayers. It is an open house, where anyone can join, and it serves to meet he call to worship buried in the heart of every human being. Finally, there is a warm welcome waiting for all who wish to come, regardless of whether they believe or not.
So, how are you coping in the current situation? Our church services are suspended, and we are forced to practice social distancing and avoid congregating, two things which are anathema to Christian life and belief. When you look at the life of Christ, the last thing he did was “social distancing.” He visited colonies of contagious lepers and his healing throughout his ministry involved touching others, both literally and metaphorically.
Christ’s sustaining and abiding gift to us was the Sacrament of Holy Communion, which he commanded to be celebrated as a memorial to him. There is something powerful and mysterious hidden in this simple meal of bread and wine, made Christ’s body and blood through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the offering, breaking and sharing of bread, Christ’s body is being offered, broken and shared for you and for me. I find the Eucharist, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, a profound and eternal moment into which I am being drawn and made one with God and with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
In Lent our regular Saturday and Sunday services of the Holy Eucharist have been suspended. In their place we are able now to offer an online service, which is a blessing to us in this current time, but not fully communion in the traditional sense. While I was thinking about what this means for us, I was sent an article on Spiritual Communion by my colleague, Rev. Canon Mark Harris. I recommend you to read it. The link to the article is here.
I am not sure I agree in every respect with Canon Mark’s conclusion, as there is something essential about our need to be together to share in an actual meal. But the important thing, from God’s point of view, is our intention, which means that our longing for communion is known and valued by God, and moreover this spiritual hunger has the potential to be transformational. We do that by simply offering up to God our spiritual need for communion as a sacrifice, and ask him to quicken our hunger so that, when we all meet again in church (that happy day!), our understanding of the Sacrament will have deepened and our gratitude expanded by virtue of our having been deprived of it.
In other words, a good thing is worth waiting for.
In the meantime, I am exploring other ways for us to be the church while we are apart, including the possibility of Bible study and Lent courses using Zoom. Stay tuned.
On a lighter note, here is a joke I received today.
A preacher was winding up his temperance sermon with great fervor: “If I had all the beer in the world, I’d take it and throw it into the river.”
The congregation cried, “Amen!”
“And if I had all the wine in the world, I’d take it and throw it in the river.”
The congregation cried, “Amen!”
“And if I had all the whiskey and the rum in the world, I’d take it all and throw it in the river.”
And the congregation cried, “Amen!”
After the sermon the preacher sat down. The deacon stood up: “For our closing hymn,” he announced, “let us turn to page 126 and sing, ‘We Shall Gather at the River.’”
Stay healthy and blessed.