Many of you are used to reading the lessons in advance to give you an opportunity to prepare for Sunday worship. This Sunday, April 26th the gospel lesson will be Luke 24:13-35.
I would like to take a moment to share some thoughts on verses 30-31. “When Jesus was at table with them, he took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and hey recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.”
These verses clearly have Eucharistic overtones and many of us are really missing the opportunity to come to the Lord’s Table to receive the sacrament. You may be reading about or hearing from others about “virtual communion” where members are invited to sit at their computer with a piece of bread and some wine or grape juice in a cup and commune when the pastor does the consecration over the internet.
I hate to be the bearer of disappointing news, but that is not Communion. Like most of you, I too miss receiving Holy Communion and you might think I am lucky because I can just “do it” at home for myself or with Chris since we are both ordained. But no, it doesn’t work that way. Lutherans are clear that the Lord’s Supper is intended to take place in the Sunday gathering, not privately. Our fast from receiving Holy Communion perhaps is reminding us of just how precious the gift of this Meal is to us.
When pastors decide to offer a “virtual communion” they are making it into spiritual magic and that is not at all what it is intended to be. The Eucharist like faith itself is perhaps personal, but it is by no means Private. Even when a pastor goes to the hospital or the home of a shut-in for a visit and to bring Holy Communion it is possible for any other member of the congregation to come along or who happens to be there at the same time to also partake in the sacrament. Again, for Lutherans there is no private Mass. When we translate the words “Given and shed for you” from the Greek the word “you” is always plural in the text.
I have also heard of individuals thinking they should/could preside that their own Lord’s Supper at home. Again Luther thought it all through and although in an emergency a lay person can administer baptism, only a properly called minister should celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Luther felt that while unable to receive Holy Communion we should read the gospel and gather and pray since Holy Communion is another form of the Word, one called a “visible word.”
At some point our need to be apart will end and what a joyful reunion it will be as we gather around the Lord’s Table. Until then, keep the faith, read your Bible and give thanks for every opportunity you had in the past to receive Christ present in the Holy Supper. You are baptized dear ones and for now that is more than enough.
Let us pray:
Gracious God through Jesus Christ your dear Son, you have adopted me as your very own and given me your name in the waters of Holy Baptism. You have generously poured out upon me your Holy Spirit. By the washing of the water with your word, I have been united with Christ Jesus in his death. In the same way I share in his resurrection and hold to the promise of eternal life. For the sake of Christ Jesus you have called me a beloved child and declared me to be well-pleasing in your sight. I ask that you strengthen and sustain my faith and lift me up with your Son to that new life which you have promised through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Rev. Ellen Meissgeier