Second Letter on Communion - June 17, 2020
Dear Spring Run Family,
On June 5th, I sent a letter anticipating with great joy our re-gathering for worship and celebrating the Lord's Supper together. Realizing we cannot all be together at each service, we expanded communion to be observed twice a month (first and second Sundays of each month). The elders and I thought it was important to explain communion so if you have not already read that letter you can find it below.
I received some helpful feedback from some of you which made me realize we had not adequately addressed ways you can receive communion. While the elders still believe scripture teaches we should normally be present in person with the gathered church in order to receive communion, we want to clarify and expand the ways we can do that together with a pastor administering the sacrament. Here are the options:
Be present in the sanctuary for the in-person service.
Watch and participate in the livestream service while sitting in a lawn chair or in your car in the church parking lot or grass area out front. When you arrive, notify an usher that you are here and would like to take communion when it is served. We will then send someone outside to distribute elements to you to take with us.
If you are unable to come to the church for medical reasons that put you at higher risk during COVID-19 then please contact your shepherding elder or a pastor and let them know. In such circumstances, we are able to come to you, read scripture, exhort, pray, and administer the sacrament with you.
We hope this helps you be able to participate in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper with us, and we thank you for your understanding and desire to participate with the body of Christ.
Sincerely in Christ,
Letter on Communion - June 05, 2020
Dear Spring Run Family,
I very much look forward to Sunday when we are able to begin regathering for public worship services, and I look forward to serving and taking the sacrament of the Lord's Supper with you. I think you need to be prepared in a few different ways.
First, prepare your hearts. Preparing your heart means repenting of your own sin, relying on Christ alone for salvation, being baptized and professing your faith in a gospel believing church. Then you are welcome to partake in the Lord's Supper with us. In receiving the elements, you are not doing so alone, but together at the gathered body of Christ. This is why the scriptures instruct us to be reconciled one to another before taking communion. If you have a problem with a brother or sister in Christ, you should admit sin and ask forgiveness thereby demonstrating the union we share in communion. In communion, you receive grace and resolve to walk in new obedience to Christ.
Secondly, expect to receive God's grace. There is also a very real way in which God is doing something in communion. God spiritually nourishes his people enabling us to more fully appreciate our redemption, impressing upon us his amazing grace, and connects spiritually so we know his presence. Not only this but the Spirit often moves us to experience great sorrow for our sin and greater joy as we have the assurance of heaven and await the great Wedding Banquet of the Lamb. It is often said that God works in mysterious ways. That is most certainly true in Holy Communion. Our confession of faith describes it as a holy "mystery" and means of grace. This means we do not think it is merely a memorial meal all about our reflection on what Jesus did. Nor do we like the Roman Catholics believe the elements transform into Jesus' body and blood and he is re-sacrificed. Reformed churches believe Christ is spiritually present and the Spirit is truly active in us dispensing grace as we partake by faith. We join with Calvin to say, “And, to speak more plainly, I rather experience than understand it.”
The Stated Clerk of our denomination explained it this way which I found helpful. Dr. Taylor wrote, "The analogy I used was the re-enactment of a battle like the Battle of Gettysburg or the Normandy Invasion. A re-enactment is more than a reminder of an event, but it is not a repetition of the battle because in a re-enactment, though it is a vivid experience, nobody dies. In Exodus 12, the Passover meal was instituted so that all Jews throughout time would be connected to the Exodus. The Passover liturgy that many Jewish families use was based on Exodus 12. It began with our ancestors who were slaves in Egypt but then went on to say that the Lord delivered us with his strong arm. So Communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, is not a repetition of Calvary, but a re-enactment, a reconnection to Christ’s death for us (1 Cor.10:14-22; 11:17-34), an experience of the unity of the Church throughout space and time (1 Cor. 10:17), and also an anticipation of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb after Christ’s Return (Isa. 25:6-9; Rev. 19:6-10)." (https://byfaithonline.com/virtual-communion-informed-advice-and-opinion/)
Third, in order to partake of communion, you need to be present in person with the gathered church. This means you should not be getting bread and wine from your cupboards to eat and drink as you watch via Livestream. You should know the Elders have studied and prayed about this. In extraordinary times we had considered extraordinary measures. Had we been prevented from meeting much longer we were looking into various ways to administer communion that we would not want to make a normative, regular practice. However, since we are able to begin meeting again, the Elders' instruction is to only receive communion as we are gathered together which is the way scripture intends it to normally occur. Additionally, we will be serving communion on the first and second Sunday of every month as we continue through the phases of reopening. This will give greater opportunity for you to be here and take communion with us.
Fourth, expect it to be different in several ways. You will not come forward to get the elements. Instead, they will be in prepackaged containers in the cup holders under the seat in front of you. This helps us practice safety measures during COVID19. Please leave the elements there until you are instructed to get them. You will have to peel back the first layer to get to a wafer that will melt in your mouth (that does not imply it is tasty) and then peel a second layer to drink the juice. We ask you to hold the used cups and place them in the trash cans at the back of the sanctuary as you exit.
I can't wait to see you and to re-enact this great celebration of the Lord's Supper with you!
Your Brother in Christ,