The food we eat, the communion we share
Way back in the old days, when kids got to junior high school, the boys took woodworking class and the girls went to home economics class. That’s the way it was, and nobody thought anything of it. I would have taken home economics anyway, because I hate getting splinters, and the worst you can do with cooking is to make runny chocolate pudding (I got D on that one). But we also made muffins, plain muffins without any extras like bran or bacon or blueberries. That was in seventh grade. They were, to me, the best-tasting muffins in the whole universe, and I have been looking for that perfect plain muffin recipe ever since. While shuttered at home during the pandemic, I found that perfect muffin recipe—soft and buttery with just a bit of sweetness from adding vanilla.
It turns out that I have had more time to cook, and more reasons to make my own meals than to eat out. Besides the perfect muffins, I have made chicken marsala, shrimp scampi, chow mein, Korean beef bowl, lettuce wraps, grasshopper pie, and much more. I am eating very well. (What have you been cooking? Just curious.) But one meal I cannot fix for myself and I sorely miss. That is the consecrated bread and wine, the Body and Blood of Christ. Even as a priest, I cannot consecrate one wafer and a sip of wine and consume it by myself. Holy Communion requires, as the name suggests, community—not just with God but with one another. And because of the danger of succumbing to a highly contagious virus, we have been missing that person-to-person community, and thus, “the holy food and drink of the most precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What seems like a very long time ago, Bishop Breidenthal set mid-October 2020 as a target date for resuming Holy Eucharist. That date, of course, came and went away, and the coronavirus just came and never went away. At my previous church as interim, I began offering a “People’s Eucharist” online, consecrating everybody’s food and drink over the internet, but that too was prohibited. The Agape blessing and meal on Sunday mornings have been as close to Holy Communion as possible without the “technical” elements that make Holy Communion “official”—the words of institution (“This is my body…”) and the epiclesis (“Send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts…”). And we’ve been unable to share space with one another. Finally, it’s time.
We are getting vaccinations to protect us and others against COVID-19, and we are very familiar with precautionary measures that keep us all safe. This Sunday, March 14th, we will offer a live worship service with Communion at 8 a.m. for those who feel comfortable enough to meet in person at the church. After six and a half months, how many of you will I meet in person for the first time? I am so excited! For those who are still waiting for more assurance of safety, we will continue offering the pre-recorded service and the Zoom service on Sunday mornings. Three separate worship services! See you there at ONE of them! And thank you for your patience during these trying times.
I would love to hear your reactions and thoughts! Please respond at email@example.com and let’s have a conversation!