Should I Take Communion At Home?

    04.05.20 | Pastoral Reflections by Brad Sumner

    Palm Sunday is a unique time in the church calendar. It marks a time of celebration and yet a time where we enter into a week that is marked by loss and sadness. There's a sense of both holy anticipation as we move toward resurrection but also a sense of sorrow and loss as we think about Good Friday.
     
    One of the "losses" that we will experience in this season is the inability to share two important rites together in person as a community: communion and baptism. We have decided as elders and staff to postpone our scheduled Easter baptisms till we can be together in person again to bear witness to the stories of God at work in the lives of those who are seeking baptism but we are proceeding this Sunday with an invitation for you to partake in communion in your home as we worship digitally.
     
    Let me explain a bit as to why we are proceeding with one but pausing the other.
     
    First, we should remember that the church scattered as opposed to gathered is not particularly new. The church has in many times and places not been able to gather together together (times of persecution, times of war, times of famine, times of illness, and more). In his book Life Together Deitrich Bonhoeffer writes, "God’s people remain scattered, held together in Christ Jesus alone, having become one because they remember him in the distant lands... The believer need not feel any shame when yearning for the physical presence of other Christians, as if one were still living too much in the flesh."
     
    Couldn't We Just Do Remote Baptisms?
    Baptism is a both a public event and a "covenant with the church" (MB Confession of Faith, Article 8) as a gathered community. When you go into the waters of baptism, you are baptised not only into Christ, but also into a particular Christian community. A key element of this is those who are there to bear witness and to celebrate with the candidate and thus it is not particularly helpful or edifying for baptisms to be done remotely or on your own without your spiritual family present to support and cheer you on. So we want to wait till we can all be there to bear witness to what God has done and is doing in the life of Joel, Josh, Jessi and Tom.
     
    Then Why Are We Doing Communion in Homes?
    Communion has a slightly different focus. As we take the bread and take the cup, we often think more about the vertical expression of our faith (our relationship with God) than about the communal aspect of our faith. Our MB Confession of Faith notes that "the Supper expresses the fellowship and unity of all believers with Christ" (Article 9). This is not to say that communion is a solely personal event, but it is to say that when we take communion, we are remembering what Christ did and that is possible to to without the whole of the gathered community present.
     
    The idea of taking communion outside of the walls of a church might feel foreign to some who grew up in more sacramental traditions. While Communion is a holy practice that should be practiced when churches gather, it does not have to happen only within the walls of a church or given by a church leader. The early church experienced communion regularly in their homes meeting together to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of their Saviour. Matthew 18:20 tells us, “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them."
     
    Do I have to use grape juice and bread?
    The elements (what is served) have changed various times down through history. From that initial Passover Seder meal that Jesus shared with His disciples, to a more structured rite that requires an ease of preparation and hygiene distribution that we know and practice today. The point, however, is not necessarily what you use, but the status of your heart. Titus 1:15 says "Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted." So remember that communion is a time of self reflection and don't worry that you may or may not have the "right" liquid or baked good present in your home. While maintaining some reverence and historical congruence, we can also be flexible so long as we are purposeful and pure in our intentions.
     
    What about Kids?
    We have given some guidance on this in our weekly e-mail to parents from Pastor Jenna. If you missed that, head to our blog and read some thoughts on kids and communion.
     
    We continue to hold each of you in prayer as God brings you to mind. You are such an incredible community, and we are so grateful for you. “See” you later this morning,
     
    Pastor Brad