Communion in a virtual world
As a Christian, COVID-19 has been challenging in several ways. One of those has been the inability to physically gather with the church. On the heels of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2, verses 42-47 record for us what the disciples, those who follow Jesus, committed themselves to: the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread & prayers, and selling their possessions to distribute to those in need. These disciples were faithfully committed to gathering daily to sit under faithful teaching, break bread together (sharing meals & celebrating), and do ministry.
Often times, the Church will go back to this particular passage to identify regular rhythms in the modern church. We also see played out in the New Testament Scriptures that the local church observes particular sacraments or ordinances. In our specific context at Restoration Church, we regularly observe the ordinances of baptism and communion (Lord’s Supper).
These ordinances are similar in that both are regular practices of born-again believers. An individual who has been born again (John 3:3) by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8) identifies with Christ publicly through baptism. In similar fashion, a believer identifies publicly as a Christ follower when he/she partakes of communion.
Baptism and communion are also similar in that they are observed in the context of the gathered church. Both are celebration of what Christ has done. We see a picture of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection in baptism as the individual is immersed in water (being buried with Christ). We celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as we partake of the bread (representing His body) and the juice (representing His blood) on a regular basis (1 Corinthians 11:17-33).
As we continue to live in an unprecedented season, the question of ordinances has been raised by many. The most common question is: can we observe the ordinances virtually? This is a question that your elders have wrestled with for weeks. As we consider the Scriptures, we believe that the text is clear that we do this together as we gather. Although we are gathering “online”, we do not see this as the same as gathering in person. The reality is that we believe that we are currently providentially hindered from partaking of communion.
We have not considered this lightly. We have had multiple discussions, spent lots of time in prayer (individually and together) before coming to this decision. We believe that the abstaining from this particular practice for a season creates a longing for us to gather together again and celebrate!
Thank you for praying for us as we processed through this decision. Your shepherds deeply care for you and desire to lead you in the most effective, God honoring ways. Please continue to pray for us during this difficult season of social distancing.