Emerging from Lockdown: The Lord's Supper?
The covid pandemic has caused a lot of difficulty and heartache for everyone, including for us as a church family. One thing that has been particularly painful for us, as borne out in the recent survey, is not being able to share in the Lord’s Supper together. The Lord’s Supper is a celebration meal that Jesus gave us as a means of grace; we feed on him spiritually, by faith, as we eat the bread and drink the wine in remembrance of him (1 Corinthians 11: 25 – 26). However, it’s more than just ‘remembering’ (important though that is). When we share in the Lord’s supper, we all ‘participate’ together, by faith, in Christ’s body and blood, which is why we are described as ‘one body’ (1 Corinthians 10: 16 – 17).
Scripture assumes a regular partaking of the Lord’s Supper, because it is so important for us spiritually. In addition, it is such a joy to share, which is another reason why it’s so painful to be deprived of it for so long.
Because of the importance of the Lord’s Supper, the Church of England (of which St. Paul’s is a part) has various rules (called ‘canons’) governing the way in which Supper must be celebrated. The use of separate cups is unlawful in the Church of England, where use of the ‘common cup’ is required by canon. The House of Bishops has proposed either administering communion ‘in one kind’ (ie bread only), or by ‘simultaneous administration’ (ie dipping the bread into the wine and consuming them together). Neither method reflects how Christ instituted the Supper and many see this guidance as theologically problematic.
Aware of these difficulties, and acutely aware that sharing the Lord’s Supper is vital to our spiritual health as a church family, as church leaders we are actively considering how we can resume sharing bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, receiving it fully in both kinds. We will resume the Lord’s Supper as soon as it is possible to do so with spiritual and theological integrity, acknowledging our position within the Church of England and recognising the anxieties that many in our church family still have about the risks of covid transmission. Please continue to pray for wisdom as we seek the right way to achieve that.