Musing 3.12.21

In some places today is being marked as the one-year anniversary of the COVID shut down. Our last full in-person worship services were on March 7, 2020, and our attendance at those services was noticeably small. That Sunday was also our last communion service in which the elements were distributed from the pastor to the participants.

I have missed much during the pandemic. One experience I most miss is communion. Communion on zoom is not the same. Neither is the distribution of pre-packaged wafers and plastic cups as worshipers leave the building. These modes will have to do in a pinch, but they are not incarnational. I miss the human, physical, personal interaction of placing the bread in the communicant’s hand, touching a hand, looking someone in the eye, and uttering a name when I say, “The body of Christ.” That is communing at communion. It is that interaction through which I experience Christ. I sense that there are three persons present in that exchange of elements – you, me, and Christ. 

For me, it is that exchange of elements which makes the body of Christ real and palpable. What is the body of Christ? I think that most of the time most of us think the bread is the body of Christ. I shall not dispute that. However, I have come to believe that the body of Christ is those present partaking of the elements. In short, we are the body of Christ. I say as much when I lift the whole loaf of bread and say, “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” Our being present to each other, our sharing, our giving and receiving, and our willingness to eat Christ’s meal together make us the body of Christ. The holding of hands and singing the Lord’s Prayer serve to confirm the experience of oneness. It is a mystical moment. The divine and human come together; human and human come together. We are knit together as members of the body of Christ. It is sacred. It is sacramental. 

I have missed this for a year. I am not the only one. 

This past Sunday, it being the first Sunday of the month, we celebrated communion. I kind of braced myself for what has become a flat, isolated recitation of the words and motions. Like so much in the pandemic, communion has been drained of vitality. BUT this time, at Morning Blend, God surprised me. I lifted the bread to a room of 39 people (counting me), and said the words about our being one body. I broke the loaf, held a half in each hand and spread my arms as if to encompass everyone in the room and said, “The bread which we break is a sharing in the body of Christ. I had a profound experience of that action of spreading my arms so that the broken bread could encompass the room actually encompassed those worshiping online and those not worshiping online. It included those I could not see. The broken body of Christ was way more than the 39 people in the room. It was those at home, in the hospital, in hospice care, in nursing homes, in prisons, in school, in homeless and refugee camps, in despair, in grief, in heaven. It was all of us. Behold, the body of Christ. God’s love surrounded all of us wherever we were.

God had broken through the routine isolation of the pandemic to be present on an ordinary Sunday morning to show me life is extraordinary. God can break through our everyday lives as well. We are not alone. God is with us.

Be safe and well.