Communion at home and in private

Steve Kneale has written again about taking communion at home. This is one of the few issues where Steve and I disagree.  In terms of our views on essential doctrines and mission priorities we have a lot in common. This is a reminder that it is okay for friends to disagree on big issues in church life without falling out.

As most of the arguments have been rehearsed at length before – Steve has linked to his own past articles and the comments of others, whilst I have written at length here – I don’t intend to go into them again except for one brief comment.

I think Steve is mistaken in his assumption that communion is not possible online because it is not communal. I agree that watching on facebook and taking your bread and wine does not cut it but certainly via Zoom and Teams the main concerns in terms of discerning the body, accountability and discipline are very firmly in place. Of course, there is never anything to stop someone to get a glass of wine and some bread and claim he is taking communion.

However, I think Steve and I would be closer on our views about taking bread and wine whilst watching the service via YouTube or whatever.  So, that raises some very practical questions. For me, this is one of the reasons why I would be reluctant to simply live stream our services from the chapel. You see, communion in our tradition (Brethren) is a central element of what we do together when we meet each week.  So creating a service that you can watch but cannot truly participate in the main component of seems unwise and unhelpful to me.

What this means is that we will need to think carefully about that. I think if you take Steve’s approach then it would mean that you would simply have to hold back on communion until you are able to return in person to the church meeting place. For others like us who have been happy to use Zoom as a medium for gathering for worship and communion we should probably continue to look at this option as the best way forward.

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