Author Topic: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?  (Read 57987 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #135 on: March 26, 2020, 01:50:57 PM »
But an option I was thinking is that, unlike Mark, Luke, or Paul, Matthew was actually there.  Or, to put it more in tune with your perspective, "Matthew" is the only one purported to have been there.


Yes, Matthew (or Levi) is the name of one the apostles who was present in the Upper Room. However, there is nothing in the Gospel of Matthew to indicate that Matthew wrote it or that it was written by one of the apostles. Paul makes a greater claim to apostolic authority than the writer of Matthew does.

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Pastor Falk offers a couple more logical possibilities.  I can't help but note that you yourself are one who has often been quick to note (both in discussion and in your word studies) that when there are multiple witnesses to an event, rarely do they all say exactly the same thing.


Sure, and then we ask, "Why are they different?" Then seek to offer answers.

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I would also note that, no matter how early or late one thinks Matthew, Mark, Luke, or Paul put their Gospels/epistles to parchment (papyrus, paper, or whatever), Christians were gathering together to "do this."  You yourself know that it was typical of written accounts of that time to put down only the beginning (or "title") of some well known longer piece that was likely said in more extended, or even complete, form.  For instance, when Jesus said, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" as he hung on the Cross, many (I don't recall off the top of my head, but perhaps you yourself, and if not, I'm almost certain you have at least mentioned the possibility) hold that those in his presence at Calvary would have heard him say the entire psalm.  In the LBW's recension of Hippolytus, the Verba don't include "for the forgiveness of sins."  I daresay, though, that many worshipers "hear" it nonetheless.  As would many reading/hearing Mark, Luke, and Paul.


No, I've never said that. I also don't believe that Jesus had recited the whole Psalm. "Matthew" quite often pulls OT quotes out of their contexts to make his point. "Out of Egypt I have called my son" is used by Matthew to talk about the Holy Family's journey to Egypt. However, if people were thinking of Hosea's context, it's quite different:


When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them, the further they went from me;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and they burned incense to idols. (Hosea 11:1-2, emphasis added)

Hosea is clearly talking about "Israel". I note that "him" and "son" in the first line becomes a plural "them" and "they" in the next line. I doubt that Matthew, nor anyone hearing or reading Matthew 2 would be thinking about Israel's idolatry in Egypt.

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there is your propensity on this forum to introduce one detail, engage in an argument around that one detail, and then deny that you were actually making a significant theological/pastoral point in the first place.  Which may explain how, though not why, you'll have 40,000 posts on this forum by the end of this week.

Yup, I don't apologize for that. Exegesis is about little and big details looked at with as few biases as possible, which means putting aside theological and pastoral issues. For example, when exegeting the biblical versions of the Words of Institution, one should not be thinking about Luther's explanation in the Small Catechism. When preaching or teaching on Communion in Lutheran congregations, one certainly uses the Small Catechism; but that isn't exegesis.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2020, 01:55:26 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
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Steven Tibbetts

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Exegesis
« Reply #136 on: March 26, 2020, 03:13:41 PM »
Exegesis is about little and big details looked at with as few biases as possible, which means putting aside theological and pastoral issues. For example, when exegeting the biblical versions of the Words of Institution, one should not be thinking about Luther's explanation in the Small Catechism. When preaching or teaching on Communion in Lutheran congregations, one certainly uses the Small Catechism; but that isn't exegesis.


I was taught biblical exegesis by Victor Gold; Robert Smith; Ev Kalin; Michael Guinan, ofm; and others at PLTS and the Graduate Theological Union.  In my library are books (read, consulted, and/or to be read) on exegesis (by their title and contents) by Hayes & Holladay, Stuart, and de Lubac and, of course, books about and of "exegesis" without that word in their title.   

Thus I always describe your work as "word studies" and never as "exegesis." 

Fraternally, Steven+
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Jeremy Loesch

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Re: Exegesis
« Reply #137 on: March 26, 2020, 03:51:41 PM »
Exegesis is about little and big details looked at with as few biases as possible, which means putting aside theological and pastoral issues. For example, when exegeting the biblical versions of the Words of Institution, one should not be thinking about Luther's explanation in the Small Catechism. When preaching or teaching on Communion in Lutheran congregations, one certainly uses the Small Catechism; but that isn't exegesis.


I was taught biblical exegesis by Victor Gold; Robert Smith; Ev Kalin; Michael Guinan, ofm; and others at PLTS and the Graduate Theological Union.  In my library are books (read, consulted, and/or to be read) on exegesis (by their title and contents) by Hayes & Holladay, Stuart, and de Lubac and, of course, books about and of "exegesis" without that word in their title.   

Thus I always describe your work as "word studies" and never as "exegesis." 

Fraternally, Steven+

That's a good way of describing it Steven.  Brian's way of exegesis is not like any other way I've really seen.  It's exegesis with no Jesus.

Jeremy
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peter_speckhard

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #138 on: March 26, 2020, 03:56:41 PM »
Here is my daily update for those who have been following it.

Dear St. Paulís family,

I hope you were able to participate in the Service of Prayer and Preaching for our Lenten service last night. There were a few unexpected delays, and we understand that we need to change how we do the sound, but every first effort is a learning experience. We hope to be able to live-stream starting next week, and also make recordings of the services available on the website. Thanks for your patience as we all figure this out together. More on patience below!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal. 5:22-23

Times like these put everything to the test, but also provide plenty of opportunity for the fruit of the Spirit to shine like a beacon in a storm. There can be laws about all kind of things. There can be good laws and bad laws, annoying laws and critically necessary laws. But it is impossible for anyone to mandate that you be hateful, joyless, angry, impatient, mean, immoral, faithless, harsh, or irresponsible. How we respond to tough times is up to us, and by pointing us to Christ and building us up in faith, the Holy Spirit enables and empowers to respond with the fruit of the Spirit.

Of course we fail. Thatís why forgiveness is at the heart and soul of what makes us Godís family. But we never stop trying to be what God called us to be in Holy Baptism, children of God worthy of His Name. Today provides you with a veritable smorgasbord of opportunities to let your light shine. Donít read it today as condemnation or let it remind you of your failures; thatís for another time. Today, remember Christís forgiveness, and use that list simply as encouragementóGod is with you, and this is what He is helping you to be. 

We could look at any of the things in St. Paulís list from Galatians and see how this pandemic is making them harder but also more important. It harder to be filled with joy, for example, when everything seems to be going wrong. But precisely for that reason, joy is a more important thing than ever to experience and spread. Peace, too, can be hard to come by, when the news is filled with bitter political wrangling and there is so much uncertainty and fear. People at peace with God can be at peace in times of distress, and just by having that peace end up sharing it with their neighbor; joy and peace are more contagious than any virus. And we could go on to  make the same point about all nine items in St. Paulís list.

I want to focus today, however, mostly on patience, and I want to speak especially to and about those who are living alone. Patience is always one of the hardest things for people because it is so easy to recommend and so hard to accept the recommendation. Even authors of fiction admit that the weight of time on a character is an almost impossible thing to convey to the reader. Something we can endure easily for a day, or a week, easily becomes unendurable when it just goes on and on. And one such burden that time makes exponentially worse is isolation.

There is a reason extended solitary confinement is considered a human rights violation even for prisoners of war. In some cases it rises to the level of torture. Being bereft of human company is the very first thing that God said wasnít good even in Eden. ďIt is not good for the man to be alone.Ē We arenít designed to live apart. Therefore, we all need to be aware that the burden of having to be patience is not something spread evenly among our members. For some of us, quarantine is a very bearable disruption. For others of us, every day is a marathon.

Please be mindful of that fact. We might not be able physically be together. But we need everyone in our community to know that we are in this together. Personal phone calls, emails, text messages, even (perhaps especially) nice hand-written cards sent through the mail, need to keep us connected.
If you are feeling lonely and isolated, please know that you are not forgottenónot by God, not by His Church. We all acknowledge that not everyone can understand what youíre going through, but we all want you to know that you are not alone. It can sound hollow when people say to be patient, but let God give you that patience. Be sustained by the truth that you have a loving Father and His loving family.

ďIf we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.Ē Gal. 5:25 I would like to offer the following challenge for today. The Bible talks about the fruit, not fruits, of the Spirit. Therefore, I think the best way of understanding the verse is to say that the fruit of the Spirit is Love. God is Love, that Love for us is in Christ, and we are connected to Christ by Spirit-inspired faith. So we walk in love. The next eight items in St. Paulís listójoy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control-- are all facets of what a loving person has and does.

So letís practice walking by the Spirit. No, we arenít earning the forgiveness we already have. Weíre simply making a point of deliberately doing what we want to be doing even when weíre not thinking about it. Make yourself a physical list of those eight items, and find one thing you can do even in quarantine to experience and share the fruit of the Spirit. Make a point of doing something kind. Make a point of responding with gentleness to someoneís elseís anger, frustration or frayed nerves. Do the whole list merely as practice. Such practice is the burden of time turned to a positive.
Above all, stay in contact. Just as you might help someone who needs food, help someone who needs contact and togetherness, something for which a human being hungers just as much as food. People need to be reminded: You are not alone!

In Christ, Pastor Speckhard

Dave Benke

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #139 on: March 26, 2020, 05:32:50 PM »
So letís practice walking by the Spirit. No, we arenít earning the forgiveness we already have. Weíre simply making a point of deliberately doing what we want to be doing even when weíre not thinking about it. Make yourself a physical list of those eight items, and find one thing you can do even in quarantine to experience and share the fruit of the Spirit. Make a point of doing something kind. Make a point of responding with gentleness to someoneís elseís anger, frustration or frayed nerves. Do the whole list merely as practice.

Exactly the medicine we bring in Jesus' Name.

Dave Benke

Mbecker

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #140 on: March 27, 2020, 02:41:43 AM »
Some unsatisfactory solutions to the unavailability of the Sacrament have been suggested at the present time. One is that a pastor speak the words of institution from the church during a streaming service while everyone communes at home. Another is to have the pastor consecrate elements in the presence of elders or deacons who would in turn administer them to members. While the hunger and thirst for the Lord’s Supper that leads to such measures is both understandable and commendable, the solutions are nevertheless faulty.  A video streaming “consecration” with words spoken by the pastor remotely and communion elements in member homes is almost identical to an approach that the CTCR addressed in 20061in which the Commission said:  1.The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus with words and actions spoken and carried out by him in the direct presence of his disciples (Matt. 26:26-28). Throughout history, the church has sought to be faithful to Christ’s practice in this regard. Pastors speak the words of institution in the presence of the assembled congregation, thereby giving assurance that we are “doing this” as our Lord has instructed us to do (Luke 22:19). Whenever the actual words and actions of the celebrant in consecrating the elements are intentionally separated (by time, distance, or technological means) from the distribution and reception, no assurance can be given that our Lord’s instructions are being heeded and that the body and blood of Christ are actually being given and received for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of faith (cf. fn. 15 of the CTCR’s 1983 report Theology and Practice of the Lord’s Supper [TPLS]).

Moreover, this approach turns the words spoken by the pastor from a proclamation into an incantation of sorts. This, too, was addressed by the CTCR:  2.This practice lends itself to the unscriptural notion that the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper are present by virtue of the “incantation” of the pastor in some way,  The CTCR responded to a question about DVD consecration. While there certainly are some dissimilarities 1between the question at that time and the present question about a video streaming consecration, the similarities are so strong that we are referencing the 2006 opinion extensively here. See CTCR, “Opinion on DVD Consecration (2006) at https://files.lcms.org/wl/?id=7ZiqCqGn3FiMMtQcbrcFQuPjjfn9AoMQ.
shape or form, rather than by the gracious power of Christ and his Word. “Concerning the consecration,” says the Formula of Concord, “we believe, teach, and confess that no man’s work nor the recitation of the minister effect this presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Holy Supper, but it is to be ascribed solely and alone to the almighty power of our Lord Jesus Christ” (FC Ep VII, 8; quoted in TPLS, 15). While it is true that “the regularly called and ordained pastors of the church are to officiate at the administration of Holy Communion” (TPLS, 17-18), it is only “through Christ’s word and its power”—not through the mere “sound” or “recording” of the voice of the pastor—“that Christ’s body and blood are present in the bread and wine” (TPLS, 14).  Novelties such as these in the practice of the Lord’s Supper will inevitably lead away from the Sacrament itself as instituted by Christ to humanly-instituted techniques by which the Sacrament is purportedly being given. Note the third point raised by the CTCR in 2006:  3.As emphasized above, the focus in our celebration of the Lord’s Supper must always be on the gracious word of Christ—the word that gives assurance to hearts weighed down by guilt, doubt and fear that the great gifts promised here are truly given and received. The Commission says: “To...insert some personal idiosyncrasy into the consecration is to detract the people’s attention from the Sacrament. The congregation’s focus is to be on Christ’s word and invitation. The celebrant is a servant to sharpen that focus” (TPLS, 15). The Lord’s Supper is intended to strengthen faith in God’s forgiving grace, a faith which counts on the Word of Christ’s promise that the bread and wine are His body and blood. To introduce doubts or uncertainty about the Sacrament negates this purpose. We can be thankful that God in His mercy has not given the Lord’s Supper as the only “means of grace.” Instead, he showers us with His grace. The Gospel is not silenced, forgiveness is proclaimed, Baptism will be administered even in emergencies, and Baptism is lived out daily by means of repentance and the new life that God’s Spirit enables us to live in any and all circumstances.

I apologize for joining this discussion late.

The CTCR's opinion here, and it is just that, an opinion, seems misguided.

The following opinion may be misguided, too, but I don't think it is.

We are in a "Grenzsituation," a limit situation. People of good faith may disagree about what is good pastoral practice in this limit situation. The Scriptures know nothing of video streaming, computers, televisions, telephones, microphones, large video monitors (like the ones popes have used when they celebrate the mass in extremely large gatherings), light bulbs, automobiles, bicycles, or viruses, for that matter. Where, in any of the accounts of the Lord's Supper, is there mention of individual cups, communion rails, a distinction between grape juice and wine, processed wafers, processed wine, processed grape juice, the plastic in which the processed wafers are packaged, the burse, the veil, the pall, the paten, the purificator, an altar--or microphones, speakers, or video monitors (as used in mega Lutheran churches)?

In this time of crisis, in which members of a congregation may very well be isolated from one another for the next year to 18 months or longer (or at least limited to groups of no more than two people in public, if we have to follow the German model), it seems to me that we need to allow for Christian freedom in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, especially on the basis of the power of the Lord's promising word and of his abiding, ubiquitous presence.

What is the real difference between a pastor consecrating bread and wine during a videotaped/recorded service, in which the faithful of that congregation are gathered in the name of the LORD and in the presence of the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit and who, in the context of the divine service in which they are participating at a distance from the pastor and the other faithful, hear Christ's word of promise that the consecrated bread and wine on the altar in their home is his very body and blood given and shed for them for the forgiveness of their sins --AND a pastor consecrating wine and bread within a modern church building, in which the faithful of that congregation are gathered in the name of the LORD and in the presence of the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit and who, in the context of the divine service in which they are participating at a distance from the pastor and the other faithful, hear Christ's word of promise that the consecrated bread and wine on the altar in their church building is his very body and blood given and shed for them for the forgiveness of sins?

There is no difference, it seems to me. The Lord's promise is sure and certain in both cases. Contrary to the CTCR's opinion, we don't "do" the Lord's Supper. The Lord does his supper. And the Lord is present wherever he "words himself" and "wills himself" to be present.  He doesn't say "how" those disciples are to be gathered in his name. Why can't the Lord's body and blood be present in the bread and wine that are consecrated via video-streaming, when the same Lord is present and acting in that space--through his word and will--as in the space of the church building in which similar bread and wine are consecrated? It seems to me that the Lord's word and promise hold true in both cases. Why not?

Every time the celebrant consecrates the elements, his or her actual words and actions of consecrating the elements are indeed separated by time and distance from the distribution and reception of those elements. It can't be any other way, even when the assembly is all gathered together in the same building. In the congregation in which I am a member, the time and distance between the consecration and the distribution (esp. on Easter Sunday) may be as much as 30 minutes and easily 100 to 150 feet. So the whole line about "no assurance" can be given that our Lord's instructions are not being heeded, etc. etc., is a bogus line of argument. When the pastor speaks our Lord's words of promise, that promise is as true for the the bread and wine on the altar of the church building as it is on the altar in the disciples' homes, when those disciples hear that divine promise in relation to that specific bread and wine. There is no doubt about the source and the referent of the Verba in both situations.

Nor does the video-streamed service need necessarily imply that the Verba spoken by the pastor are an "incantation." (BTW, that type of misunderstanding--that the pastor's words "turn" the bread and wine "into" the body and blood by means of incantation--is probably more common among the faithful than many realize, at least in the LCMS congregations I have served, but even among some ELCA students I've encountered at Valpo.) In a video-streamed service the same words and actions are spoken by the pastor in relation to the bread and wine on the altar as they are in relation to the bread and wine on the altar in the home. The body and blood of Christ are present by means of the gracious power and word of the ubiquitous Christ. The focus remains on the gracious promise of Christ. That promise is spoken by the pastor, whether the pastor is 10 feet or 10,000 feet or 10 miles removed from the elements (but still in audible range). Who among us is going to get legalistic about such distances?

In both situations, that is, in the assembly in the church building and in the assembly of those gathered remotely by technology, the words and actions of Jesus--as they are condensed in the wording used in the common service (which wording is not identical to the wording/actions in the Scriptural accounts; these accounts themselves do not agree with one another in all details)--are indeed spoken and carried out in the direct presence of the Lord's disciples. The Lord is present to his disciples, whether those disciples are gathered in a church building, sitting in pews and participating at a distance from other believers in the room, or whether they are gathered in their homes, sitting in front of their computer screens or tvs and participating at a distance from other believers across town. The risen Christ is ubiquitous. His word and promise are just as valid and powerful when spoken among those gathered for the divine service in an assembly of the congregation, sitting in pews (but still separated from one another and coming to the altar at differing times and distances) as when they are spoken through the internet among those gathered for the divine service through a special streaming service. The people are still separated from the pastor in both situations, regardless of distance. What counts is that Christ is speaking in the divine service. What counts is that Christ is the one who is promising that his body and blood are given in the sacrament for the forgiveness of sins. And Christ is present everywhere his word of promise is spoken. "Wherever two or three are gathered in my name...." What is the real difference between the "two or three" gathered in the name of Christ in a physical church building and the two or three who are gathered in the name of Christ via a live streaming service? Why limit the presence of Christ to the presence of the pastor who speaks the words of institution before an assembly of people who are in the same building? If it is the word, power, and promise of the ubiquitous Christ that counts, there really should be no problem with a regularized live-streaming divine service of word and sacrament. The risen and ascended Christ is in the direct presence of those who are physically in the presence of the pastor. The risen Christ is also in the direct presence of those who are participating in the divine service via video-streaming and communing at home. We are being faithful to the words and practice of the Lord when we focus on his promising words, "given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins." We should not get bent out of shape about the modern means by which those words can be spoken and assured to the believers who must distance themselves further than they would normally do in a regular divine service in a church building. (What is the real difference between a pastor speaking the Verba through a microphone/speaker to a huge congregation of 10000s and a pastor who does the same through the microphone/speaker of a computer screen? In a video-streaming service, the congregation is still "assembled," still "present" by means of the modern technology, but nevertheless assembled at a greater distance from each other than would be the case in a normal church building, under normal circumstances.

More could be said, but that would be my basic response to this CTCR opinion.

While I favor the ancient custom of deacons or elders taking the consecrated elements to the faithful who are unable to receive them in the assembly, and would prefer that practice to the one I have suggested above, it seems to me that even that practice may be problematic in this time of severe pandemic, especially if we have to limit our contact with one another along the lines that the German government has mandated. It could be that congregations throughout the world would simply terminate all corporate worship (with or without the Eucharist) until this pandemic is over (hopefully within the next 18-24 months or so). Barring that extreme measure, I would not fault or criticize a congregation that adopted a Eucharistic practice such as the one I suggest above.

Matt Becker
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 08:26:10 AM by Mbecker »

Dave Benke

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #141 on: March 27, 2020, 08:44:46 AM »
Thanks for your thoughtful response, Matt.  I agree with the critique of the CTCR paper in several major ways.  Your semi-final thought about the consecrated Meal being taken by deacons, elders, pastor to the faithful is rebutted in no substantial way by the CTCR - it's just, in their theological view, not our custom.  Except that in the history of the Church catholic, it has been and is our custom.  So I'm with you on that preference. 

Secondly, the argument against "incantation" seems to me flawed, and yet became a central point to the CTCR.  You point out those flaws.

I am trying to wrap my head around the time-frame of our mandatory separation from others and what it does to the Body of Christ down the line several years.  This is a boundary/border/Grenz situation, to be sure.  And my current thought process is that if reception of the Eucharist through elements consecrated at home becomes regularized, what is imperiled is the Scriptural imperative "not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together."  That, it seems to me Scripturally, means face to face assembling.  In person.  That boundary would be broken, for many permanently, and like Humpty Dumpty we wouldn't be put back together again.  Think of the Church under trial and persecution through the centuries.  The gatherings of Christians in person, which imperiled their safety, became critical to the perseverance of the faith in those countries/areas.

In a hierarchical system, of course, it could be put back together again by fiat.  Maybe.  In most non-hierarchical (Protestant) systems, the faithful, whether old and infirm or younger and on the move, could well say "it's a lot less hassle for me just to look in for a half hour and take my communion at home.  Thanks for breaking the boundary of in person worship."  Once we can come back together, many will exhale and go back to their favored habit of fellowship in Christian community.  I'm in such a place.  Man, we miss one another.  But many others will be cautious, real cautious, and still take a viewing seat at home on their own time as the services are archived online.  The new habit, if enabled further by distance Eucharist, could well become imbedded.  And the way the Church is Church would be changed not for a time but permanently.  I'm not thinking that's a good idea, based on looking at a couple thousand years of Church experience.

Dave Benke

peter_speckhard

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #142 on: March 27, 2020, 09:21:00 AM »
But again, the issue is language and meaning, and what the pastor refers to when he says, "This is my body, etc. " In all times and places, it has at least been clear in the pastorís own mind what he is referring to when he says, "this." That's why new elements brought out when there is a shortage need to be consecrated; even though they were in close proximity, they weren't what he was talking about when said "this" in the original consecration of the elements. That's how those assisting know what bread and wine to treat/store/dispose of as consecrated elements and which to just put back in the cupboard. Everything we do that distinguishes consecrated elements from unconsecrated elements, including the spiritual hunger that needs the former but not the latter, depends upon knowing what the word "this" is in the consecration refers to specifically, not in general.

That is not possible with live-streamed communion unless it is a two-way video in which the pastor can see who is there and what elements they're using. Replacing the pronoun with the referent (which you have to be able to do if you're making sense) would have to go something like, "Whatever bread and wine anyone watching this has in front of them at this time is my body..." But is that true? Only true for believers? On what authority do we declare that? And if we only speculate that it cold be true, it is no Sacrament and no faith trusting it. We have to be able to say definitively.

That people need comfort is certainly true. That some of those people would be comforted by thinking the bread and wine they set in front of their computer screen when they tune into any Lutheran service online thereby becomes consecrated is also true. But whether it is therefore responsible pastoral practice to assure them of such because it would comfort them is, at best, an extremely dubious proposition.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 11:37:51 AM by peter_speckhard »

Dave Benke

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #143 on: March 27, 2020, 10:58:03 AM »
But again, the issue language and meaning, and what the pastor refers to when he says, "This is my body, etc. " In all times and places, it has at least been clear in his own mind what he is referring to when he says, "this." That's why new elements brought out when there is a shortage need to be consecrated; even though they were in close proximity, they weren't what he was talking about when said "this" in the original consecration of the elements. That's how those assisting know what bread and wine to treat/store/dispose of as consecrated elements and which to just put back in the cupboard. Everything we do that distinguishes consecrated elements from unconsecrated elements, including the spiritual hunger that needs the former but not the latter, depend upon knowing what the word "this" is in the consecration refers to specifically, not in general.

That is not possible with live-streamed communion unless it is a two-way video in which the pastor can see who is there and what elements they're using. Replacing the pronoun with the referent (which you have to be able to do if you're making sense) would have to go something like, "Whatever bread and wine anyone watching this has in front of them at this time is my body..." But is that true? Only true for believers? On what authority do we declare that? And if we only speculate that it cold be true, it is no Sacrament and no faith trusting it. We have to be able to say definitively.

That people need comfort is certainly true. That some of those people would be comforted by thinking the bread and wine they set in front of their computer screen when they tune into any Lutheran service online thereby becomes consecrated is also true. But whether it is therefore responsible pastoral practice to assure them of such because it would comfort them is, at best, an extremely dubious proposition.

I agree with what you're saying, Peter.  The practice of setting aside "reserved" elements for distribution and extension of the Meal by those chosen to do such and to receive such has probably 18 centuries of continuous practice by the Church catholic.   I don't see the same thing at all when it comes to another cup/chalice/glass and another bread being consecrated at another place at the same time for individual or family use.  That's de novo, at least to me. 

I think in honesty this is different in the way our two Lutheran denominations would view it.  One (LCMS) has very strict guidelines for Eucharistic participation, the other (ELCA) has by now almost no real guidelines left for Eucharistic participation.  Once the option to commune the non-baptized was opened, that in effect was the end of guidelines of any kind.  So - an underlying participation issue for the Missouri Synod for any reception not directly administered by a rostered pastor is "who got in?"  At home Eucharists can have ad hoc recipients - the Bascoms from down the block popped in and we invited them.  Uh-oh, they're Methodists.  At the same time, the ELCA home administrators would be actually encouraged to bring in anyone who showed up as a form of radical hospitality, so pretty much anyone is eligible.  In either case, there is no discrimination when it comes to administration by the person authorized to administer, which is the pastor. 

Dave Benke

readselerttoo

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #144 on: March 27, 2020, 11:18:58 AM »
Iíll be transparent here.  The sacrament of Holy Baptism initiates one into the Body of Christ.  The sacrament of Holy Communion is for the baptized who are in the Body of Christ.  The ancient church practice is correct imo.

Mbecker

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #145 on: March 27, 2020, 11:29:50 AM »
Thanks for your thoughtful response, Matt.  I agree with the critique of the CTCR paper in several major ways.  Your semi-final thought about the consecrated Meal being taken by deacons, elders, pastor to the faithful is rebutted in no substantial way by the CTCR - it's just, in their theological view, not our custom.  Except that in the history of the Church catholic, it has been and is our custom.  So I'm with you on that preference. 

Secondly, the argument against "incantation" seems to me flawed, and yet became a central point to the CTCR.  You point out those flaws.

I am trying to wrap my head around the time-frame of our mandatory separation from others and what it does to the Body of Christ down the line several years.  This is a boundary/border/Grenz situation, to be sure.  And my current thought process is that if reception of the Eucharist through elements consecrated at home becomes regularized, what is imperiled is the Scriptural imperative "not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together."  That, it seems to me Scripturally, means face to face assembling.  In person.  That boundary would be broken, for many permanently, and like Humpty Dumpty we wouldn't be put back together again.  Think of the Church under trial and persecution through the centuries.  The gatherings of Christians in person, which imperiled their safety, became critical to the perseverance of the faith in those countries/areas.

In a hierarchical system, of course, it could be put back together again by fiat.  Maybe.  In most non-hierarchical (Protestant) systems, the faithful, whether old and infirm or younger and on the move, could well say "it's a lot less hassle for me just to look in for a half hour and take my communion at home.  Thanks for breaking the boundary of in person worship."  Once we can come back together, many will exhale and go back to their favored habit of fellowship in Christian community.  I'm in such a place.  Man, we miss one another.  But many others will be cautious, real cautious, and still take a viewing seat at home on their own time as the services are archived online.  The new habit, if enabled further by distance Eucharist, could well become imbedded.  And the way the Church is Church would be changed not for a time but permanently.  I'm not thinking that's a good idea, based on looking at a couple thousand years of Church experience.

Dave Benke

Dave,
I agree completely with the further points/concerns you raise.

This pandemic is and will be an ongoing tentatio/Anfechtung for the una sancta, especially perhaps that part of it that is lazy and selfish and deeply fearful.

Last night I was simply thinking out loud in this forum, trying to test out one option for Eucharistic celebration/Holy Communion in this time of plague and enforced social distancing. What spurred me were the flawed elements in that CTCR opinion.

I was thinking, too, of the situation of a small congregation I know pretty well, whose average age must be close to 75, if not 80. Most of those folks, even some of the younger ones (and by "younger" I mean "in their late 60s"), have underlying health issues. For that matter, so do I (lung damage from 2 prior illnesses). They thirst for the sacrament of the altar in this time of tentatio and uncertainty, but they also know that gathering together for the divine service of word and sacrament at this time (and for the foreseeable future) is both (1) against the law here in Indiana; and (2) dangerous to them, to their fellow church members, to their extended families, and to the larger public. All it takes is one infected person within the assembly to put several others into potential mortal danger. Look at what happened to those folks in that Korean cult, who defied governmental orders and met for worship anyway. The elderly folks I know in that little congregation know that Korean story, and they don't want to repeat it themselves.

So I was trying to think how our adoration of the risen and glorified Christ (whose glory and person is a mysterium), our understanding and acceptance of the orthodox Christological dogmas concerning the person of Christ, and our evangelical-Lutheran understanding and practice of the Eucharist (which is informed by Luther's Alexandrian Christology and his eucharistic theology), all of which, I believe, accords with apostolic doctrine--how all of that could also accord with this exceptional, irregular option for celebrating the Eucharist in this time of trial. Put another way: how could the celebration of the Lord's Supper via a live-streamed service (or even a taped service) and reception of the so-consecrated elements at home fit with the adoration, the dogmas, etc.?

You point out a very serious potential consequence to this irregular communion practice. But could it be that just the opposite might happen? that those who commune in this manner would be strengthened in their faith and witness? to participate in a virtual fellowship for the sake of building up the body of Christ in this Grenzsituation? The Lord will continue to reveal the good things he is doing in this time of pandemic. And I think a lot of irregular church goers are experiencing this pandemic as a summons to repentance and renewed faith, but they have no opportunity for any kind of fellowship, virtual or otherwise. Maybe this new way of Eucharistic practice might deepen their faith and enliven their discipleship. Could it be that the Spirit is moving in this way today?

Then, too, I was thinking of what my son did earlier this week. On Wed. he turned 21. He was really bummed because he couldn't go out to a bar to celebrate this important personal milestone with his friends. He's stuck here at home with his mom and yours truly. So after he and I toasted a beer earlier in the evening, he went down to his room to have "a virtual birthday party" with a dozen of his friends. It was an apostolic number of celebrators, each socially distanced from the others for the sake of public health, each "present" to the others via their computers, each toasting their favorite beverage, and they had a good time, a celebration--so much so, that I had to go downstairs around 1am yesterday morning to ask him and them to bring the party to a close because I had to get up later that morning to tape a lecture for students who will now view it at their convenience via distance-learning technology.

We will need to find creative ways to be "church" in this time of social distancing. While I don't favor the option I sketched, I also don't think it necessarily contradicts our adoration of Christ, our understanding of orthodox Christological dogma, our understanding of  eucharistic theology (as informed by Luther's Christology and his theology of the Lord's Supper). I also don't think it necessarily conflicts with AC VIII and XIII. Crucial would be keeping the streamed service on a private address on Youtube or some other streaming service so that the pastor could still at least exercise some pastoral oversight and fulfill his/her calling in accordance with AC XIV.

Still thinking....

Matt Becker
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 11:31:21 AM by Mbecker »

Mbecker

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #146 on: March 27, 2020, 12:12:09 PM »
Another option might be for the pastor to tape the Eucharistic service at the altar, with a few assistants present, keeping their social distance from one another. Having disinfected their hands and wearing gloves and masks, the pastor and assistants/elders would worship according to the liturgy of the divine service. Afterwards, still gloved and masked, they would package the consecrated elements into individual packages that members would receive in their cars as they drove through the parking lot of the church building. After receiving the consecrated elements, the members would return to their homes and participate in the taped divine service. That way, the pastor could explain in the taped service that the very elements he/she had consecrated were the ones that had been distributed. These consecrated elements would be received orally at the appropriate time in the service that the members would be viewing. Spouses could commune one another. Individuals could simply self-commune. It would be important, it seems to me, that the pastor add some explanatory words at the appropriate point in the service so that the members viewing the tape and participating in the service that way would know when to commune.

(Addendum: It would be best if the pastors and assistants could be tested for the virus a day or two ahead of each communion service. That way, if the tests come back negative, then the pastor and assistants wouldn't have to wear masks during the taping of the service.)

So this is a kind of "drive through" holy communion, but it maintains continuity with the pastor's consecration of the elements at a single altar, with the ancient custom of distributing the consecrated elements to the sick and imprisoned, and it places the reception of the consecrated elements in the context of the members' adoration/participation through the taped divine service that they watch at home.

Might this be a better option?

M. Becker
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 12:16:13 PM by Mbecker »

readselerttoo

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #147 on: March 27, 2020, 12:23:28 PM »
Another option might be for the pastor to tape the Eucharistic service at the altar, with a few assistants present, keeping their social distance from one another. Having disinfected their hands and wearing gloves and masks, the pastor and assistants/elders would worship according to the liturgy of the divine service. Afterwards, still gloved and masked, they would package the consecrated elements into individual packages that members would receive in their cars as they drove through the parking lot of the church building. After receiving the consecrated elements, the members would return to their homes and participate in the taped divine service. That way, the pastor could explain in the taped service that the very elements he/she had consecrated were the ones that had been distributed. These consecrated elements would be received orally at the appropriate time in the service that the members would be viewing. Spouses could commune one another. Individuals could simply self-commune. It would be important, it seems to me, that the pastor add some explanatory words at the appropriate point in the service so that the members viewing the tape and participating in the service that way would know when to commune.

(Addendum: It would be best if the pastors and assistants could be tested for the virus a day or two ahead of each communion service. That way, if the tests come back negative, then the pastor and assistants wouldn't have to wear masks during the taping of the service.)

So this is a kind of "drive through" holy communion, but it maintains continuity with the pastor's consecration of the elements at a single altar, with the ancient custom of distributing the consecrated elements to the sick and imprisoned, and it places the reception of the consecrated elements in the context of the members' adoration/participation through the taped divine service that they watch at home.

Might this be a better option?

M. Becker


hmmmm.  Sounds somewhat familiar:  https://docs.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=http://shepherdlutheran.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/20200319-Drive-up-Communion.pdf&hl=en_US

However, since then there has been a re-evaluation of the procedure and I'm not sure what is next or whether this will be continuing.  From my perspective and participation it worked quite well.  But I missed the closeness which on-site communion affords.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 12:27:37 PM by readselerttoo »

peter_speckhard

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #148 on: March 27, 2020, 12:24:00 PM »
Had a zoom meeting last night with some old pastor friends, and one of them is doing something I think I might imitate. He opens the church during set hours and allows one person/household at a time (have to wait your turn in the car or narthex) to come into the sanctuary, where he does a brief communion service, including Confession/Absolution, Creed, Lord's Prayer, Institution, Distribution, Prayers, Benediction. Only takes a few minutes really. Basically, all it amounts to is doing an abbreviated shut-in visit, except instead of the pastor going around the homebound, the people come to him, but stay away from each other.

Not ideal, to be sure, but certainly no real spiritual/theological issues.   

readselerttoo

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #149 on: March 27, 2020, 12:26:06 PM »
Had a zoom meeting last night with some old pastor friends, and one of them is doing something I think I might imitate. He opens the church during set hours and allows one person/household at a time (have to wait your turn in the car or narthex) to come into the sanctuary, where he does a brief communion service, including Confession/Absolution, Creed, Lord's Prayer, Institution, Distribution, Prayers, Benediction. Only takes a few minutes really. Basically, all it amounts to is doing an abbreviated shut-in visit, except instead of the pastor going around the homebound, the people come to him, but stay away from each other.

Not ideal, to be sure, but certainly no real spiritual/theological issues.   

Here is a workable solution as well.  See?  There are options. PTL.