The Bread, The Cup – the Video Stream

This week’s eNewsletter feature
was written by Rev. Raymond Hylton,
FPCE Senior Pastor.

Dear friends,

COVID-19’s impact is without question a massive disruptor — not only for the world of sports, work, school, commerce, and travel, but for churches as well.

Congregations must now reexamine many of their assumptions around programming and worship practices. One such key practice is the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday, and because it is the first Sunday of the month, we will celebrate Communion — this year in our homes. Can we do that? Are we allowed to do these remotely by video or Livestream? or should we abstain for a time and wait until we are together again?

Last Tuesday, our Session approved the celebration of the Lord’s Supper during Holy Week (Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday) in our respective homes.

Lest we forget, the Lord’s Supper historically was celebrated in homes and small groups: from the celebration of the Passover (Exodus 12) and the Last Supper (Mark 14, Luke 22) and in the early church (Acts 2:43-47), the Lord’s Supper was reenacted in homes with families or small groups of people, as such was the context of regular worship.

During times of war, widespread persecution of Christians (in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia), and through many other pandemics, the Church did not cease practicing Baptisms and the Lord’s Supper. In caves, catacombs, and homes, the Church bravely celebrated the presence of the risen Lord in their midst and, partaking of bread and cup, anchored their faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The threats currently posed by COVID-19 have scattered Christians from their public buildings. The containment order from Governor Pritzker requires us to do our part by staying home. And this we will continue to do, for as long as the quarantine order stands.

But, make no mistake, we are still the mystical Body of Christ. And in that form and forum, Jesus promises never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 31:6). The common ritual of sharing in the Lord’s Supper remains a tangible expression of our unity, even while physically separate from one another.

For this Sunday and Maundy Thursday, we invite you to make preparations — much as God’s people of Jerusalem were preparing for pesach in the Passion week. Have on hand some wine or grape juice, cranberry juice, crackers, wafers, muffins, matzah or bread. I will lead you in our thankful celebration of the bread and cup, and then you will partake with your family, or even by yourself — with all of us.

We must never forget that traditions were made to serve the Church. The Church was not made to serve traditions. When a tradition proves unfeasible or impractical — or even presents a clear danger to our people — we must not hesitate to dispatch with those practices for the sake of the Church. How we serve the Lord’s Supper (passing the plate in the pews, or by intinction, or by video streaming all over Chicago, the nation, the world) is subservient to the depth, meaning, and heartfelt practice of the Lord’s Supper.

We do ALL of this in memory of what God in Christ has done for us.

Looking forward to walking through Holy Week with you.

Pastor Ray