Sunday is Easter. It is in some ways hard for me to wrap my brain around this fact because of our shelter in place order and how it has upending Lent and Holy Week plans. We will celebrate Easter Sunday at 10 on our webpage, on Facebook, or on our YouTube channel. In that service we will celebrate Holy Communion together virtually.
Why are we offering communion online?
Sacraments are rituals of the church elevated to a special place of prominence and reverence for their ability to communicate the grace of God. There are only two sacraments in The United Methodist Church: baptism and communion. Unlike baptism, communion is a sacrament that we receive repeatedly in our life of faith as Methodists; in fact, John Wesley (founder of Methodism) believed that communion ought to be taken as often as possible!
The conversation of online communion is a complicated one in The UMC. In 2013, our Council of Bishops called for a moratorium on online communion. In normal seasons, this is a topic of hot debate in the Christian church, as the physical presence of the body of believers is, for many, an essential aspect of the sacrament.
This is not a normal season. As churches respond faithfully to delay the spread of COVID-19, we have suspended in-person worship, and are at this point unsure of when that suspension will be lifted.
While we cannot be physically together, and while we continue to adapt to what this means for us and our ministry together, we know that the sacrament of communion is a meaningful, life-giving experience for the people of Central UMC. This is why we believe online communion is the faithful thing for us to do as your pastors.
How will this work?
The experience will, in many ways, be just as you have experienced it before in worship. Here’s a step-by-step guide of how to experience online communion:
Bread and Juice - When you do your weekly grocery shopping (flatten the curve!) we encourage you to purchase your favorite bread along with a small bottle of juice.
Prepare Your Space - Create an altar. Place the bread on a plate and the juice in a glass/cup. You might place them on a white napkin. A lit candle to symbolize the presence of Christ may be helpful. Any symbol of the resurrection you may have could decorate your altar.
Join Us Online - We’re live-streaming our worship at 10:00. When the pastors lead you through the liturgy, respond with the appropriate words as though you are in the room with them, and our pastors will lead you through every step along the way. If you are watching with others in the same room, offer communion to one another, and then take a moment to spend in prayer with God.
Even though this is different from how we would normally celebrate communion, it does not deny the fact that Christ is Risen. Alleluia!