Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

The Lord’s Supper in the Time of COVID-19


“When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve.” (Matthew 26:20)

As churches contemplate returning to worship services in their buildings, one issue that will need to be addressed is how to do communion. We may never pass a tray or plate again in worship. The idea of making changes to communion because of sanitary concerns is not new. Not long ago, people never imagined communion being served in multiple cups. I was in college before I ever saw a church using individual pieces of unleavened bread. Why were these changes made? They were not made for Biblical or theological reasons. Churches adopted these new practices to be more sanitary.

Many churches cannot go back to serving communion the way they did before because we must protect the health of our members. At the same time, we must be careful how we proceed. Sanitary concerns should not be our only concern. One could even argue they should not be our main concern. We are talking about the Lord’s Supper. This meal is the centerpiece of Christian worship. It is why we gather on the first day of the week. If all we are concerned about is the sanitary way it is served, then we have missed the point. The Lord’s Supper could become so sanitary that it no longer is the Lord’s Supper we are taking.

I believe we should avoid individually wrapped communion packages where the bread tastes like styrofoam and the juice tastes like grape soda. There is nothing individual about the Lord’s Supper. It is a communal meal that we take with fellow believers. These individual packages may serve in a pinch, but they should not become common in our worship.

What should we do then? Perhaps, there is a way to make the Lord’s Supper theologically more meaningful while also making it more sanitary. Most Churches of Christ have emphasized the importance of the table in worship. The table sits in between the pews and the pulpit. When we gather, we come to the table. Since we have traditionally given the table a significant role in our worship, why not continue this? During the Lord’s Supper, why not have people get up and go to a table to receive communion? This would emphasize the theological significance of the table while also eliminating the unsanitary practice of passing the plate.

Each congregation would have to figure out the logistics of how this would work. They would have to decide how many tables to place in their worship area and how the elements would be distributed at each table. They would have to determine how and when people would go to the table and return to their seats. It would take more planning than using individual cups, but the end result would be worth it.

Many of us would like things to go back to exactly the way they were before. Sadly, that is not an option at the moment. Would getting up and going to a table take more time? Yes, it would, but that shouldn’t be important. How significant would it be to break bread with fellow believers at a table? How meaningful would it be to be served the Lord’s Supper at a table? How important would it be to have someone tell you each Sunday this is the body of Christ broken for you and the blood of Christ shed for you?

We shouldn’t rush through the Lord’s Supper. We shouldn’t individualize the Lord’s Supper. We should observe the Lord’s Supper as it was observed by Jesus in his disciples in an upper room and that was at a table.

One Response to “The Lord’s Supper in the Time of COVID-19”

  1. Interesting perspective and suggestions.

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