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16th Sunday After Pentecost 2020
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Service Sunday 10:15 AM
WE ARE THE CHURCH CONNECTED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT ONLINE
The Church is all of us Christians who gather in Christ’s name.
Sometimes it is at our St. Mark church building, in the sanctuary, in the library where we meet as a council, in the student room where adult education meets or in the fellowship hall for Sunday school.
Anywhere we gather in Christ’s name, the Church becomes a reality. So let’s be what we are called to be–the Church.
WE ARE A CHURCH WHEN WE GATHER TOGETHER IN CHRIST’S NAME EVERYWHERE, EVERY TIME AND IN MANY WAYS.
HOME COMMUNION GUIDELINESDURING THE PANDEMIC
Pastor Viktoria Halmagyi Parvin
PREPARATION FOR COMMUNION — A HOLY PLACE
1. Please prepare to join worship with everyone on Sunday at 10:15 AM. We gather just like a community would gather in a church building. Set up your computer or iPad so you will be ready to join.
2. Set up a special place for worship, a coffee table that is separate for this time. We make things holy by setting them apart for God.
3. Prepare bread and wine or grape juice. Christ used simple elements like bread and wine that we can find at home. Don’t worry about what kind of bread or wine you have. You can use any cup to pour the wine.
4. Print out the service that you receive so that we can follow the service together.
5. At the end of the service, you might consume all the bread and wine or go outside and
pour it under a tree. We do this to acknowledge that the wine and bread we used is
special. We simply show respect by treating these elements with a thankful heart.
6. Please refrain from sharing communion apart from Sunday. Communion is shared with each
other and together with other parts of the service.
WHY DO WE CELEBRATE COMMUNION FROM HOME?
The global pandemic interrupted our lives and the lives of the church. We are still a church, a gathered people in Christ’s name. We gather not in a church building but in our homes via live stream. It is the best and safest way to be together.
Some things are missing like passing the peace or greeting each other with a hug. It feels very different to worship from a home and yet it feels familiar. God who is able to give life to dry bones and turn water into wine is someone who wants to reach out every way possible and that includes our online community.
Our faith is built on relationships with God and each other. It is a Trinitarian faith, and God is relational as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our faith and spirit thirst for God in the breaking of the bread and pouring of the wine/grape juice. Our need is especially strong in time of hardship and suffering.
On the most difficult night for Christ when he was betrayed and knew his death was near, he gathered his disciples around a table. Jesus took bread and wine and shared them with everyone, including Judas. He asked his followers to do this, share his very being with each other, his body and his blood. We need to hear the words: Christ is “given for you” and his blood is “shed for you.”
As Lutherans, Holy Communion is administered by an ordained minister. I deliver communion often to hospitals and homebound so that we could all join together with our congregation and the global church. We are all homebound now for a good reason. We care for each other. We listen to the public officials when they issue a stay at home order. So communion comes to our homes.
My pastoral decision is to not withhold communion in this time of need. Some churches decided to fast from communion. Roman Catholics and Episcopalians were advised to wait until the time when we can worship in church again. The ELCA and our own bishop decided to trust clergy pastoral decisions. We are not of one mind on this issue that we never had to consider before. We are learning to be the church in the time of unseen circumstances and opportunities of new technology.
We will offer communion at St. Mark on Sundays and if you want to participate please do. Everyone is welcome to the Lord’s Table no matter where they are.
LUTHER EXPLAINS COMMUNION IN HIS SMALL CATECHISM
What is Communion?
It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.
Where is this written?
The holy Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul writes: Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”
In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
What is the benefit of this eating and drinking?
These words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.
How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?
Certainly not just eating and drinking do these things, but the words written here: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” These words, along with the bodily eating and drinking, are the main thing in the Sacrament. Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: “forgiveness of sins.”
Who receives this sacrament worthily?
Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words “for you” require all hearts to believe.