April 8, 2020
We are so grateful for your participation in Easter worship in these uncommon times! The promise of our Christian faith continues to be proclaimed - the tomb is empty and Jesus is alive!
For the people of Christ the Savior Lutheran Church, regular participation in Holy Communion is a tangible, real reminder of Jesus’ promise to be present with us. We believe that Holy Communion is a means by which God’s grace – the Lord’s loving acceptance and forgiveness of sinners apart from our worthiness – is made real for us. We take Holy Communion seriously, and receive it with joy.
With Lutheran Christians around the world, we trust and believe that the living Jesus is really present with us in the bread and cup, as Jesus promised he would be.
Holy Communion is regularly celebrated and offered when God’s people gather to hear the Good News of the Gospel proclaimed, and Communion is presided over by an ordained pastor whose call is to do so for the sake of God’s people.
It is important to remember that communion practices vary among Christians, and even among congregations of the same denomination. Christian congregations and leaders are not of one mind on how to navigate Holy Communion in these uncommon times.
The pastors and leaders of Christ the Savior Lutheran Church have decided to offer Holy Communion as part of our Easter worship services because we believe that the unique promise of Jesus’ presence is powerful assurance to God’s people. We trust that Christ is greater than the distance that separates us one from another during this pandemic.
We hold fast to these traditional teachings about Holy Communion even as we celebrate it in virtual connection:
- Communion is for the gathered people of God – it is not celebrated privately, or without the leadership of an ordained pastor who has been called and equipped by God’s people to preside.
- The Communion table is open to all who trust that Christ is present – it is proper to receive some basic instruction in the meaning of Holy Communion, but in the end, the presence of Christ is a true mystery that none of us can fully comprehend.
- Receiving Communion is an assurance of God’s love, not a prerequisite for that love. It is entirely acceptable at this and any time to refrain from Holy Communion…God’s love is not diminished for those who do not partake!
Simply put – you are welcome and invited to take part in Holy Communion, and you are just as welcome to refrain from Holy Communion. God’s love for you in Christ remains the same!
From Martin Luther on, those who established the practices of Holy Communion in the Lutheran Church did so without consideration of streaming worship online to the members and guests of a congregation who are participating in worship while sheltered in place for the sake of our neighbor’s well being.
On this day of resurrection, in the midst of this pandemic, if you’d like to participate in Holy Communion – we offer these instructions:
- Prepare your bread and cup before worship begins, and place it in the midst of the space where you will worship.
- Any kind of bread is acceptable – though perhaps you’d like to take the time to bake some home-made bread, or purchase a special, small loaf as something set apart for this purpose.
- Wine or Grape Juice are acceptable for the cup – if neither are readily available, you can absolutely receive the fullness of God’s promise in bread alone. Other liquids should not be substituted, for the sake of consistency with the scriptures.
- When the instruction is given in the course of the worship service, you can consume the bread and wine/grape juice however you like. You may dip the bread into the wine, or eat and drink them separately.
- At the conclusion of Holy Communion, or at the end of the worship service, all remaining bread and wine/grape juice should be consumed. An alternative is to pour the wine/grape juice out on the ground and tear the bread up for feeding to the birds – returning that which came from creation to God’s creation. As these elements have been set-apart for holy purpose, it is not appropriate to store the bread and wine/grape juice for consumption at a later time. You will want to consider this when you determine the quantity of bread and wine/grape juice that you set apart for use in worship.
Following these instructions, and those given in the worship service, will ensure that we honor the Sacrament of Holy Communion in the same way we would when gathered together at church.
If you would like to know more about how Communion is understood at Christ the Savior Lutheran Church, you are encouraged to view these helpful teaching videos, prepared by current and former pastors for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017:
In the end, we all receive Holy Communion in faith, and in the trust of God’s grace for us. May you experience the fullness of Christ’s presence and promise this Easter, whether you choose to participate in or refrain from Holy Communion!