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Hybrid Worship and the Eucharist

During the season of Lent, we are practicing a hybrid model of Holy Communion, with options available for those worshiping in person as well as online. As Lutherans, we understand the Eucharist to be a unique expression of Christ’s real presence among us. We celebrate the Eucharist weekly whenever possible, knowing that where two or three of us are gathered, Christ is truly present. Our hope is always that we will be able to gather the entire worshiping community in person to celebrate the Eucharist, but sometimes this is not possible for a variety of reasons, primarily but not exclusively related to illness and disability. Assured that the Holy Spirit binds the church together across distances, we understand that those worshiping remotely are truly gathered with the congregation and able to share in communion.If you plan to commune at home, here are some considerations:

Preparation: Plan to attend worship live at 9:45am. Gathering in time is important to our congregation’s understanding of what it means to be “together.” Before worship begins, set aside a piece of bread, pita, or cracker for use on Sunday. If you are able, set aside wine or grape juice, as well. Have it with you at the start of worship so you’ll be prepared when we share the meal.

Leftover Elements: If you have any bread or wine leftover, be sure to treat it with reverence as Christ is truly present there. You may eat and drink what remains, or return it to the earth by respectfully placing it under a tree or a bush outside.

Q: What if I forget to prepare bread or wine? What else can I use?

A: We ask those communing at home to center the practices essential to communion: to gather with others when possible, to use the items closest to bread and wine available to you, and to refrain from communing if nothing appropriate is at hand. 

Q: I’m worried I won’t remember to set aside elements. Can you help?

A: You can pick up communion kits after Sunday worship, from the church office, or ask the pastor or Annette to find another way to deliver them to you.

Q: If the pastor isn’t in my house, should I bless the elements myself?

A: We trust that the Holy Spirit gathers us together as one body even if we are not physically present. There is no need for you to speak the same words as the pastor or copy their actions.

Q: Usually I receive communion when the pastor or another church member visits.
Does this mean visits will stop?

A: No. While visits have become more difficult during the pandemic, the Eucharist is not the only reason to gather. The pastor or a church member can still bring the Eucharist in person if you prefer, and connect by phone calls or in person visits as well.

Q: What if I don’t feel comfortable communing online?

A: This practice is one available option, but it is not mandatory. You may choose instead to reflect on the hymn we are singing, to pray, or to wait until after communion to share the Collect of Longing, a prayer for those who are unable to take communion at this time.

Q: What happens when Lent is over?

A: Toward the end of the season we will gather feedback on this experience and determine whether it makes sense for our congregation to continue it in the future.