Statement on Communion
What will we do about communion during this lock-down? One of the beauties of the gospel is that it adapts so fluidly in different times to different cultures. The church must constantly be adapting the unchanging message of Jesus Christ to the changing realities of its time. During this shelter-in-place we must consider how we will practice communion together. Communion was instituted by Jesus himself and continues in the church until His return. It is not only symbolic but also, in some mysterious way, communicates the real presence of Jesus Christ. Baptism and communion are “signs and seals” of the work of the Spirit in us; they not only represent spiritual realities as signs but also seal the work of God’s Spirit within the heart of the believer. While for practical reasons we will postpone baptism until we gather together, we will continue to celebrate communion to strengthen and deepen the faith of the believer in the finished work of Jesus Christ. During this season we want to make use of every means of grace at our disposal to access the glorious presence of Christ to sustain us.
But can we take communion when we are not physically gathered? We are instructed to take communion regularly; at Wellspring we have chosen to celebrate this on the first Sunday of each month. But can communion be served when we are gathered only virtually and not physically? Clearly communion is to be taken when the church gathers together (1 Cor 11:18; cf. vv. 17, 20, 33, 34). Yet this may not be limited to physical presence; Paul himself sees himself spiritually present with the Corinthians as they practice church discipline (1 Cor 5:3). As a result we believe that the church is gathered together virtually and may appropriately take communion during this time.
The manner in which we take communion is important; “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cups of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27). We must not be cavalier or dismissive when we approach this. This Sunday we will take communion together via livestream, and we ask that you prepare appropriately. Please prepare your hearts as well as grape juice and bread. If you do not have these items at home and are unable to purchase them, we are more than happy to deliver them to your home. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org by 5pm Friday, March 30. During the livestream, you will be directed in properly receiving communion. All you need to do is follow along online individually or with the members of your household.
This is a temporary and odd situation. If some disagree, I ask for charity and grace; the Bible does not clearly address how to practice communion during a shelter-in-place so we need discernment to apply Scripture to our situation. We also happily extend charity and grace; if you do not feel comfortable taking of communion in this manner, you are welcome to abstain. With you, I look forward eagerly to the day that we will gather again in person and celebrate communion and baptism in person. What a glorious celebration that will be! And until that day let us feast on the glorious presence of Jesus Christ who will never leave us nor forsake us.