The Eucharist Has Left The Building

Jesus told the Samaritan woman in the Gospel of John, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither worship God on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem…But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:21-24

For the first time in my lifetime, the entire congregation is on the church’s shut-in list. We have been mandated to “shelter-in-place” and practice social distancing whenever we venture out of the house due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, churches have turned to social media platforms like Zoom, Periscope and Facebook Live to carry on the business of the church. Bible studies, small group gatherings, and the worship experience have been moved from the church house to our house. We are forced to go beyond the four walls of the sacred sanctuary into living rooms, and family rooms to partake in study and worship.  For some of us this is the first time that we’ve had spiritual formation experiences outside of the church. Our biggest challenge, however, has been what in the world do we do for communion? For the most part, we have adapted to going to church in the living rooms across the country. It is reminiscent of the early church which got its start in the homes of the early Christians.[1]  So, what does that look like for us on first Sunday? How do we experience Holy Communion when we are not there to physically partake of the liturgy and elements?

Well, first, adjust your mindsets. Then prepare for the sacrament of Holy communion at home. This will take care in thought and effort, but do not overthink it. First, find a place that the family can gather to participate in worship, liturgy, and sacrament together. Johnson home communion 1  It could be in the living room, dining room, or family room. Prepare the space like you would for entertaining an important guest. Some have used table linens and the “good” dishes and glasses, you know the ones that we are all saving for a special occasion… Basically, you want a place where you can view the worship experience with your family. For our family, it is in the family room in front of the smart television. On the coffee table we prepared our elements (crackers and grape juice) on our crystal wedding dishes. This is us, but whatever you have will be great. You may opt to cover them with a cloth napkins or paper towel until time. Until then, we dress like we are going to church and participate in the entire service…  of course, this is totally optional. Most of all you want to make sure that your heart and mind are prepared for this sacred moment.Johnson home communion 2

The next question that you might be pondering is will this moment still be sacred. Yes. Once the pastor consecrates the elements, your elements ARE indeed consecrated and are now sacred. At the time of communion in the service, your pastor will lead you through the Holy Sacrament. Be sure to handle the elements, your juice, and crackers sacredly. Only pour what you need. Any leftover juice and crackers must be consumed and not just thrown away.

We can do this because we believe by faith that God is omnipresent, God is everywhere. So as we partake in the sacrament guided by our pastors, God is present with us as we receive the bread/ crackers, the broken body of Christ and the wine/ juice, the blood of Christ that  was shed for you and for me on the cross of our salvation. Above all, we should not be deterred by not being in the “house” of God to experience a movement of God.

Karma Johnson

Rev. Dr. Karma D. Bowen Johnson, Turner Monumental AME Church, Minister of Christian Education and Steering Committee Member of Hope4CE

 

[1] Quote by Rev. Mark Pierson, Sr. Pastor at Turner Monumental African Methodist Episcopal Church. On May 31,2020

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