Lamentation in Dismemberment

I’ve seen and heard about my fellow Christians in various traditions finding new ways to have the Eucharist or serve Communion during our season of social distancing: methods ranging from drive-thru service, to appointments one family at a time, to distribution of the elements by the deacons prior to live-streaming, or even folks using what they have on hand at home—whether bread and wine or functional fillers.

I only have vague pre-articulated impressions at this point of the apparent motivations of why some of my fellow Christians would do or are doing these things. Much of it revolves around seeing something of value or power in the doing of the Sacrament that conceives of the Sacrament itself as abstracted and legitimately self-contained from the context of a physically assembled congregation. And that just screams Gnosticism to me (or whatever the better descriptor is for a form of faith and practice that has no functional theology of the physical body at worship and a corresponding atrophied liturgical theology).

I’ve incidentally read a small and growing number of ministers and brethren (read here, here, and here) who are expressing my developed theological intuitions about whether or not to make the Lord’s Supper happen under the present circumstances. That is to say we shouldn’t be making it happen.

The loss of the regular practice of partaking in the body and blood, one Loaf and one Cup, should strike us as a lamentable situation. And yet that makes the loss an apt reminder of our true spiritual condition as something of a dismembered body of bodies in the present hour. I think it’s valuable for us to experience the significance of the loss of Communion in order to truly gain an appreciation for the significance of Communion as a communal bodily practice in space and time, because that is the sort of creatures we are.

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