On a phone call recently some colleagues were sharing their experiences of having Communion over Zoom. Eric Hamlyn of Lynn Valley United, who does ministry with youth, shared that he had simply told group members: bring something to have Communion with.
He didn’t prescribe bread and grape juice, though most youth would understand these as the foods we eat at this ritual. Conscious of the recommendation that people limit themselves to one trip out for groceries per week, he encouraged the youth to be creative and to “use what you have in your house.”
As he reminded them, in Communion we are recreating the Last Supper. Jesus did not serve his disciples carefully cubed bread and pre-purchased grape juice, but he took what was on the table, what was at hand!
Several weeks ago we at First United experienced our first Communion since we had become a “scattered community” because of the COVID19 virus. Historically, the term diaspora was particularly associated with the Jews. But in modern times it has evolved and has been used to describe any involuntary mass dispersion of a population.
It is said that qualities that are typical of diasporas are thoughts of return, and a desire to maintain ties with “home” (often a country of origin). In some ways we are experiencing a diaspora. The closure of churches by order of our province in mid-March was involuntary, even if we agree that it was necessary to protect citizens.
As Alberta’s chief medical officer, Deena Hinshaw, has observed: “We are holding many things in tension right now. The need to protect ourselves and each other from COVID and our need for human community.”
Being a faith community without a building has had many challenges, and a few discoveries—even blessings. I dare say this is the experience of any diaspora population. It causes people to take less for granted and to cherish more.
?Observing rituals of the faith are a way we maintain ties with other Christians. The simple act of eating a little bread (or garlic Naan, or rice crackers, or whatever you have on hand), while we gather around our computer screens or telephones in our separate homes, can help us maintain ties with each other. It can have the power to connect us in a real and tangible way, while we are separated.
We hope you will join us this Sunday—with whatever you have at hand—as we join our hearts as a community in the celebration of the sacrament of Communion.