The Public Health measures mandated during the Coronavirus have made it to where healthy individuals who are used to taking communion cannot do so. This begs the question of should loved ones be giving communion to each other at home?
While the deaths and sickness of the Coronavirus are tragic, as is any death, there are larger questions than even death such as “Where is God?”, “What is God trying to teach us during this time?” and “Who is Jesus Christ and what does it mean that He came to save us?”
One of the greatest things that has happened during this time is that the Body of Christ, namely the Church, has been transformed back to the home churches that were common during the early days of the Christian Bible. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a church building, a church can remain strong and indeed prosper during times of wilderness. The tabernacle years of The Falls Church Anglican, the church of George Washington, is but one example of this.
Having everything else stripped away is a reminder of what are the foundations that we build our lives on. The effects of the Coronavirus and social distancing are a reminder that while it is important to gather on Sunday, what about the temple in our homes every day of the week? How is Jesus glorified in our actions towards those we are closest to and also online?
A discussion of communion, often known as the Sacrament of the Eucharist, is important for several reasons, practical and theological.
There are many churches who have weekly communion. There are many churches who have bi weekly or monthly communion while some churches seldom practice it. Generally it is the more liturgical churches that have more frequent communion and are faced with the immediate question of what to do regarding home communion. That being said, the longer social distancing requirements take place it is more likely that churches with less frequent communion will also deal with this issue. Finally, we are in Holy Week; the week Jesus Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, was betrayed and led to the Cross for the sins of the world, and resurrected on Easter. If there is one time that even non liturgical churches think about communion it is during this time.
During Holy Week, on the night he was betrayed, Jesus instituted Holy Communion. The account in 1 Corinthians 11:23 states:
that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, [a]“Take, eat; this is My body which is [b]broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. (NKJV)
Jesus obviously places a premium on communion, and at the very least said to partake in it in remembrance of Him.
It does not take a priest to administer communion for these are extraordinary times. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches allow for the baptism of a dying person by a layperson. Rome is allowing for confession straight to God due to social distancing requirements. An exception can be made for the Eucharist as well during this time. Precedent exists in Part II, Section 58 of Sacramentum Caritatis, issued by Pope Benedict XVI which calls for frequent communion for the sick who cannot attend mass with regularity.
Further, the Priesthood of all Believers that many Protestants believe in lend credence to allowing communion in normal circumstances, to say nothing of these extraordinary times. This Easter is a perfect time to have home communion during home worship, as it was during the early days of the Church.
The more liturgical churches may learn that this important sacrament does not necessarily need an ordained person to give it to the lay faithful, though communion should never be taken lightly or when in grave sin. Concurrently the less liturgical churches, many of them evangelical in nature, can cast aside their aversion of anything that reeks of linkage to Rome or Constantinople. Different churches and different styles of worship may not only draw closer to Christ but be reconciled to each other, “If it is possible” as St. Paul says, through remembering Jesus.
Jesus Christ is truly the only unifier for the world. He does not discriminate, for His love came for all mankind, though we can accept or sadly even reject that saving grace that is the salvation for our sins. For some, the Eucharist is literally the Body and Blood of Christ, for others Communion is only symbolic while some see it as a powerful mystery between the two viewpoints. Regardless, all mankind needs the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the elements of Communion are at minimum a powerful remembrance of that.
As we remember and praise Jesus Christ, what better time and place to have communion than in our home churches during Easter.