Good evening, after much thought, prayer and reflection I have decided to not celebrate the Eucharist again until we can gather as a community in person. It is a very strange experience celebrating, taking, blessing, breaking, and sharing the bread and wine with two or three present. Following are exerts from Dr. Eileen Scully’s letter on the Eucharist fast, instructions from the Church of England and thoughts from Archbishop Ron woven into my own thoughts and words.
The pandemic has removed an element that has defined the Eucharist since the Last Supper (commemorated on Maundy Thursday): the physical presence of a community celebrating the sacrament together. “The Eucharist is something that we celebrate in community, and the prayers are the work of the community that has gathered.” The Book of Common Prayer states that “the People” are an integral part of the service, which implies that the Eucharist is inherently a communal act. The sharing of Christ’s body and blood is a corporate event and not an individual one.
We are being encouraged to look beyond the familiar rituals of the church and recognize that encounters with God happen in other ways. Christ is revealed to us through the Word and through acts of kindness to people who are alone and afraid.
Many people believe that God is using this time to remind us that there are other ways to encounter his son. God is with us. Christ is present with us, and the Holy Spirit surrounds us. Even when we cannot gather to share Eucharist together, the real presence of Christ is in our midst, even in isolation. This is a time of context-necessary eucharistic fasting, in which we join with the whole communion of saints in longing for the bread of new life and the wine of the age to come.
From our baptismal and eucharistic identities shaped over time, we are equipped and challenged to be the real presence of Christ to each other. The world needs that presence always. We are reminded that sacramentality itself – the awareness of the reality of Christ’s true presence with us here and now and at all times - is broader than the specific celebrations of baptism and eucharist in which we have shared and will share.
We are reminded that the Body of Christ – we disciples – is the sacrament to the world. Times like these call us to reach, with gratitude, into what has already been given to us, what is known from Scripture and Tradition, and to bring old-new things into light. We are being encouraged take this time to reflect deeply on what it is to be a praying community in the time of “here but not yet” Though we didn’t choose this, it is a time to embrace an intentional eucharistic fast in order to become catechumens again and through that process reflect on and deepen our faith.
“The Eucharistic table is a table like no other table. AND the Eucharistic table is like every other table. The Eucharistic elements are special and singular in that there above all other places and times, we see what God is doing in ALL places and times. Here’s the question, then: do you think if we do not gather at the Eucharistic table like no other table that God is no longer at present at all other tables, i.e., at all other places and times? Is it not the case that God’s presence to all places and times is the non-binary anchor of this non-binary relationship between the Eucharistic table and every other table, actual and metaphorical?... Think on these things. May we gather again around the Holy Table very soon. In the meantime, look for the Tables around you and among you. God is still at the Table that is spread among us in our hearts, in our prayers, in our service.” The Rev’d Dr. James Farwell, Virginia Theological Seminary
This is from the resource that I have shared many times. I have been using this for my daily devotions for many years. Often the reflection is just what is needed on a particular.
Sunday, April 19
As we were worshipping this morning a horrible devastating ace of senseless killing was ongoing in several communities in our beautiful peaceful province. This is inconceivable and incomprehensible in what we believe to be a safe place to live. We are in the midst of an epidemic, that is scary enough, and now we will never forget this tragedy. Let us keep the families of all those affected in our prayers, as well as the family of the assailant as he was some mother's son. I pray that the presence of our loving God is known with all this night. May everyone feel the loving arms of Christ wrapped around them offering comfort and support as this event unfolds. As there is more unsettling news to come, let us pray for strength and courage for those who must relay the evidence to the public whole mourning themselves. Let us pray for ourselves as we live with the fact that this incident was very close to home and has caused more to live in fear. In the name of the one who loves each of us as if we were the only one, in the name of the one who accompanies us in our times of need, and in the name of the one who enables us to be a support to others, thanks be to God.