Why We're Not Doing Online Communion
I am aware of a number people who have asked ‘why are we not celebrating communion during this time?’ or suggesting that we share communion from our home using our own bread and wine or that I celebrate communion from Christ Church on a live stream on behalf of others in a what is known as a ’spiritual communion’.
The following note from the bishop seeks to explain some of these questions. While he is writing from Singapore, we, in Thailand, have been asked to follow this policy too. I hope the following note goes someway in explaining the situation more clearly and we all look forward to when we can meet together again for the celebration of communion in church.
An excerpt from the Bishop's letter
As Anglicans, we value very much the gift of Holy Communion as a means of grace by which we have sacramental communion with the Lord. We believe we are nourished by the powerful life of Christ through the elements when received with repentance and faith. We shall miss the practice of the sacrament during this one-month period.
But let us use this time of forgoing Holy Communion to ask God to increase our desire for Him (Ps 63:1-8). Let the longing for our regular worship services and for sacramental communion with the risen Lord grow (Ps 42:1-6). This thirsting and longing for God will be incorporated in the prayer time of some of our online services.
Although we forgo sacramental communion with the Lord for a period of time, let us remember that the Lord’s presence is not restricted to His presence in Holy Communion. Remember that the Lord has promised us His presence until the time of His bodily return in glory: ‘ “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” ’ (Mt 18:20) 3 ‘And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” ’ (Mt 29:18-20)
So, whenever we worship the Lord, even without the celebration of Holy Communion, let us desire and expect that we will encounter His presence by the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe the Lord will not leave us impoverished spiritually at this time.
A Unique Time In God’s Hands
In fact, it could well be that in God’s good and mysterious way, the very conditions brought about by COVID-19, where we lose our normative experience of Church services, body life and Holy Communion, are precisely the conditions in which the Lord wants to wake His Church up spiritually, build us as disciples and use us effectively to bring HOPE to our nation and beyond. This is the Year of Discipleship, and God has chosen the context.
Beloved, the LORD God Almighty is on the throne and he is working out His purposes through this time of shaking. Firstly, the Lord is drawing me and many other leaders to a level of dependence and intimacy with Him not known before. Secondly, the Lord is bringing His people to a deeper and more thorough-going repentance that will lead to amendment of life and winsome holiness before a watching world. Thirdly, I can see that the Lord is connecting His body across denominational lines and uniting us in mission and ministry. Finally, I see in my mind’s eyes a mighty harvest of new lives coming to know Jesus as Saviour and Lord!