Author Topic: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?  (Read 58000 times)

Rob Morris

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Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« on: March 20, 2020, 02:00:54 PM »
(After a very long hiatus from these parts)

I am genuinely looking for input here: links to articles are just as helpful as personal comments...

During this time of crisis, everyone agrees with unanimity that we can livestream worship. But the idea of an at-home parishioner preparing elements for communion which are then blessed by the pastor is considered incorrect.

My question (and note the specificity): on the basis of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, why can't elements be consecrated remotely?

I have a lot of thoughts, but I am curious what others think.

NOTE: I know there are many here of other confessions - what your church bodies have decided and why would be helpful, too, but isn't my primary aim with the question.

Rob Morris

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2020, 02:04:36 PM »
For context:

After consultation with my elders, our intention is that we will not now, or ever, close our doors while worship is occurring. However, we are trying to make every other possible concession. Which led to the question of communing remotely - with the full acknowledgment that it is neither a long-term plan nor does it subsitute for the unity shown by communing together.

And if you want to help my meager YouTube stats - our daily noon prayer services, Wednesday Evening Prayer services, and Sunday service are all livestreamed - with video links and links to bulletins on the church webpage at www.ctklutherannewtown.org

peter_speckhard

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2020, 03:03:13 PM »
My own thoughts would be that normally the celebrant knows what he is a referring to when he says "this" in the Words of Institution. He has no idea what he is referring to in the Words of Institution if he is saying them in a room by himself with an unknown number of people streaming his words.

I don't think it is a distance thing. It is a mutual knowledge thing. I suppose if the service were more like a video-conference, in which the pastor could see on screens who he was talking to and the elements they had in front of them, it might be a totally different story. But just having the pastor say the Words of Institution without knowing what elements he is talking about or to whom he is talking renders the whole thing extremely questionable.

For example, why would it work live-streaming but not as a delayed podcast? Especially since the person watching may not know. Could I keep a handy podcast of my pastor consecrating the elements and use it for communion on business trips? I don't think so, and for the same reason as above-- the celebrant needs to know what he is referring to.

And these objections don't even address the issue of closed communion. 
« Last Edit: March 20, 2020, 03:19:34 PM by peter_speckhard »

Rob Morris

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2020, 03:17:29 PM »
I was sent the following link by private message. I think it should be shared here - it is a CTCR ruling on a church's practice of prerecording the words of institution to allow for some sort of "Upper Room" seder-ish service.

https://files.lcms.org/wl/?id=7ZiqCqGn3FiMMtQcbrcFQuPjjfn9AoMQ

The answers still leave questions in my mind.

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2020, 03:26:40 PM »
To Peter:

Thanks for the thoughts.

In your mind, would a phone call with the pastor before the live-streamed service, in addition to an announcement during the service alleviate those concerns?

Something like: if you intend to partake of communion in this way, please use unleavened bread and red wine and please contact the pastor if you are not a member of the congregation, as communing at this altar (even remotely) is a sign of both heavenly gift and earthly unity.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2020, 03:55:24 PM »
To Peter:

Thanks for the thoughts.

In your mind, would a phone call with the pastor before the live-streamed service, in addition to an announcement during the service alleviate those concerns?

Something like: if you intend to partake of communion in this way, please use unleavened bread and red wine and please contact the pastor if you are not a member of the congregation, as communing at this altar (even remotely) is a sign of both heavenly gift and earthly unity.
I still think the celebrant needs to know what elements he is consecrating. Even if he knew (and he could only be going on assumptions) who was really participating, he wouldn't be referring to specific bread and mind. The word "this" would have a very indeterminate referent.

Also, we believe that even unbelievers receive the true body and blood of Christ if they consume the elements. Would that also apply to remotely consecrated elements? By what distinction would we say that not all the bread and wine in the house was consecrated? It would have to be the specific bread and wine intended for that use by the communicant. But that changes the efficacy of the sacrament from the Word of Christ spoken through the Servant of the Word to stemming from the intention of the communicant.

Obviously I don't have it all worked out because it is something I never considered anyone doing until this week, but taking off my pastor hat and considering it strictly as a communicant, I would not partake of remotely consecrated elements. I would just be grateful for a good Service of the Word and look forward to the day I could commune in person.   

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2020, 04:00:36 PM »
(After a very long hiatus from these parts)

I am genuinely looking for input here: links to articles are just as helpful as personal comments...

During this time of crisis, everyone agrees with unanimity that we can livestream worship. But the idea of an at-home parishioner preparing elements for communion which are then blessed by the pastor is considered incorrect.

My question (and note the specificity): on the basis of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, why can't elements be consecrated remotely?

I have a lot of thoughts, but I am curious what others think.

NOTE: I know there are many here of other confessions - what your church bodies have decided and why would be helpful, too, but isn't my primary aim with the question.


I've stated this before, but what was consecrated in the Upper Room was a loaf of bread and a cup. The people ate from the one loaf and drank from the one cup. That can't happen with remote communion; unless, like the early church, deacons take portions from the loaf and cup and distribute them to those who could not gather for the corporate worship.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2020, 04:00:49 PM »
The body of Christ we are told to recognize is both that under the bread and wine, and the one that gathers around that bread and wine.  The body of Christ is always an incarnational reality.  Doing so virtually you literally can't recognize the body of Christ.  And that is more a statement about those you are communing with than the bread and wine.

I also like the Roman Catholic distinction between a sacrament and a sacramental.  I would tend to think that any streamed worship is at best a sacramental.  It can be an act of piety that confirms and strengthens faith. But it is not the sacramental reality of the body of Christ gathered around word and sacrament.  The Holy Spirit Calls and Gathers prior to enlightening and sanctifying.  Where two or three are gathered...

That would be my quick reasoning.

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2020, 04:01:26 PM »
For context:

After consultation with my elders, our intention is that we will not now, or ever, close our doors while worship is occurring. However, we are trying to make every other possible concession. Which led to the question of communing remotely - with the full acknowledgment that it is neither a long-term plan nor does it subsitute for the unity shown by communing together.

And if you want to help my meager YouTube stats - our daily noon prayer services, Wednesday Evening Prayer services, and Sunday service are all livestreamed - with video links and links to bulletins on the church webpage at www.ctklutherannewtown.org

Check it out:  drive-by communion (sounds dangerous, eh?  :)  8) http://shepherdlutheran.com/drive-up-communion/ or  https://www.shepherdlutheran.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200319-Drive-up-Communion.pdf

Richard Johnson

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2020, 04:07:43 PM »
I agree with Peter. I know we're in an extraordinary time. But we have to think things through theologically and liturgically. I like what Peter says about the pastor "not knowing" what he's consecrating. Additionally, if the Words of Institution (or the Epiclesis, or whatever we say "effects" the consecration) can do that remotely, how do we explain why they don't just consecrate the bottle of wine in the cupboard or the bread in the toaster? These things are hard to be precise about, I know, but we need to have some sense of how we think God works here, or we are asking for trouble down the line when the situation is different.

No one hungers for the Eucharist more than I do. But if I have to forgo it for a season, there are many other ways that Christ gives me sustenance. The Roman Catholics speak of a "spiritual communion" that can be undertaken when one, for whatever reason, is unable to receive the Eucharist. It involves a prayer something like this:

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2020, 04:09:44 PM »
For context:

After consultation with my elders, our intention is that we will not now, or ever, close our doors while worship is occurring. However, we are trying to make every other possible concession. Which led to the question of communing remotely - with the full acknowledgment that it is neither a long-term plan nor does it subsitute for the unity shown by communing together.

And if you want to help my meager YouTube stats - our daily noon prayer services, Wednesday Evening Prayer services, and Sunday service are all livestreamed - with video links and links to bulletins on the church webpage at www.ctklutherannewtown.org

Check it out:  drive-by communion (sounds dangerous, eh?  :)  8) http://shepherdlutheran.com/drive-up-communion/ or  https://www.shepherdlutheran.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200319-Drive-up-Communion.pdf

They forgot Station 6: Here I go looking for another church.
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peter_speckhard

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2020, 04:10:25 PM »
In a word, I'm not that interested in the Virtually Real Presence of Our Lord. If anything can maintain the distinction between reality and virtual reality, spiritual things, most crucially communion, should be that thing.

I mean that very deliberately-- I can't say I've thought it through enough to start issuing dogmatically certain teachings on this. I can say with certainty that I'm not interested. If the world goes on in this direction, I suspect I will be steadfastly curmudgeonly and just go find an old school church.

readselerttoo

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2020, 04:12:24 PM »
For context:

After consultation with my elders, our intention is that we will not now, or ever, close our doors while worship is occurring. However, we are trying to make every other possible concession. Which led to the question of communing remotely - with the full acknowledgment that it is neither a long-term plan nor does it subsitute for the unity shown by communing together.

And if you want to help my meager YouTube stats - our daily noon prayer services, Wednesday Evening Prayer services, and Sunday service are all livestreamed - with video links and links to bulletins on the church webpage at www.ctklutherannewtown.org

Check it out:  drive-by communion (sounds dangerous, eh?  :)  8) http://shepherdlutheran.com/drive-up-communion/ or  https://www.shepherdlutheran.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200319-Drive-up-Communion.pdf

They forgot Station 6: Here I go looking for another church.

 ;D

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2020, 04:18:29 PM »
Communion can be livestreamed.  EWTN does it daily. 

The Body and Blood of Christ is another matter.

Literally.


How do I bless (consecrate) something not in my presence? 

Pax, Steven+

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Charles Austin

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2020, 05:19:33 PM »
That San Antonio church “plan“ sounds to me as if it would be simply atrocious.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Oh, my. How close we were to a situation where many people with guns could’ve killed many members of Congress. The possible result? Martial law and/or Civil War. Thank God some people are still coming forward to tell the truth.