Author Topic: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?  (Read 60309 times)

Richard Johnson

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #45 on: March 22, 2020, 02:42:32 PM »
Some helpful reflections from James Farwell, liturgics prof at Virginia Theological Seminary (Episcopalian):

I invite you, under the conditions of quarantine, to think on these things. I certainly am thinking on them myself. They are offered especially for Anglicans, Episcopalians in particular, Episcopal clergy particularly in particular, leaders of a church that has been thirsty for the “innovative” of late, and are therefore ready to leap into all manner of peculiar practices to get the Eucharistic elements to people, especially eager to do so as Sars-CoV-2 puts a hold on gathering together in shared space.
1. I am a great proponent of the Eucharistic recovery of the 20th century liturgical movement. No one is more supportive of the Eucharistic center of the Lord’s Day than I am. No one. My own spirituality, Incarnational to the core, is eucharistically centered. I lean to the Catholic end of “Catholic and Reformed.” That said... the Anglican commitment to Christ’s presence to us in Word and Sacrament is worth pondering in this moment. The Eucharist is Word and Sacrament. Let me say that again. The Eucharist is Word and Sacrament. WORD. And Sacrament. Beware the fetishization of the Sacrament. Must we suddenly violate all principles of sacramental theology or canonical and rubrical order to make the Sacrament available to everyone in peculiar ways under quarantine? Are we wholly deprived because the Word alone is available to us for a time? I think you know the answer. (For those of you who are really liturgical nerds, imagine applying the doctrine of concomitance, in which we affirm the full presence of Christ in either bread or wine, to the Eucharist itself, in which the full presence of Christ is available in both Word and Sacrament....)
2. The sacrament is crucially a gathering of the social assembly, bodily, around material things. We priests do not consecrate the Eucharist alone. Nor is Eucharist consecrated or received virtually. The loss of the Eucharistic assembly for a time is a real loss to all of us. Imagine the celebration when we can gather again! But... do we serve the sacrament by gathering two or three people to fulfill the letter of the law as others watch online? (Yes, “where two or three are gathered” but that’s not the point here.) Or by distributing that consecrated bread and wine to be consumed privately by an individual or a family unit? (Remembering that the family constituted by the celebration of the sacrament is not the biological family....) Might the Offices, not to mention many other devotional and meditative practices, suffice for a time? Are we suddenly not ourselves, the Body of Christ, because we cannot receive the Body of Christ in the sacrament? (I do believe we are still baptized, still the Body of Christ....)
3. Related to the foregoing. God’s converting work in us, as Augustine and Gregory Nyssen and many others knew, is the conversion and reorientation of our desires. Might we embrace our Eucharistic desire, during this period under quarantine when we cannot gather, as a motivation for our prayer, an incitement of our longing for God? Might this opportunity to cultivate our longing for God be a gain that emerges from the loss of the Sacrament for a time? Might we sit with that longing, meet God in that longing? (In the ancient wisdom: that which we are seeking is causing us to seek...) Sounds suspiciously like the work of a God who’s always in the business of bringing resurrection out of death.... But maybe I’m wrong.
4. The eminent Robert Taft, S.J., Byzantine Rite Roman Catholic Archimandrite, of blessed memory, one of my mentors, I paraphrase as follows. Because I am on an airplane and don’t have the book in front of me. (All is not lost: I have a delicious beverage - speculate as you will - and a bottle of hand sanitizer.) Taft: The point of the Eucharist is not the changing of bread and wine but the changing of you and me. Is God unable to change us WITHOUT the bread and wine? Might God be able to work in us through a period of sacramental deprivation? Even through it? (See #3.)
5. For years I have tried to teach students that you do not understand the sacraments if you cannot think BOTH/AND. 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? (Hint. Revelation 21: 21-23. Another hint: Meister Eckhart’s prayer, “Oh God, deliver me from God....”)
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. Welcome to the Feast that does not end, the love of God from which and from whom we are never separated, even without the Sacrament.

The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #46 on: March 22, 2020, 04:49:47 PM »
Thank you Pr. Johnson. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul in prison likely deprived of the sacrament and yet the Word spoke to him and through him to the whole church.

(btw, I knew Farwell when he was a student many years ago)
« Last Edit: March 22, 2020, 04:56:55 PM by mj4 »

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #47 on: March 22, 2020, 06:09:48 PM »
I am asking why the innovation cannot be justified.
And I am suggesting that this is an invalid question--we have no obligation to justify our inability to justify an innovation.  This is a case where a perfectly adequate response is simply to say that the church throughout the ages has never done it that way. 

"[W]e have stated these subjects only, which we have considered as necessary to refer to and to mention, in order that it might be the more clearly perceived, that by us nothing is received either in doctrine or ceremonies, which might be contrary to the holy Scripture, or opposed to the universal Christian church. For it is clear, indeed, and evident, that with the greatest vigilance, by the help of God, (without boasting) we have been careful that no new and ungodly doctrine insinuate itself, spread, and prevail in our churches."

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #48 on: March 22, 2020, 06:49:15 PM »
The ELCA theologian, Timothy Wengert, produced sound advice on communion.  I add that document as attachment.     Michael Koch


Pr. Luke Zimmerman

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #49 on: March 22, 2020, 07:44:06 PM »
Quote
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. 

Is there an online version of this somewhere? The formatting freaked out in the above paragraph, right in the guts of the argument they're making.

Pr. Morris:

You may have already found this on the Michigan District, but a direct URL to the document is below:
https://michigandistrict.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Communion-and-Covid-19-CTCR.pdf

I also tried attaching the PDF to this post.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2020, 07:46:32 PM by Pr. Luke Zimmerman »
Pr. Luke Zimmerman
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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #50 on: March 22, 2020, 08:48:50 PM »
Of similar note, I was asked what I thought about congregations that have multiple sites with the Pastor alternating his physical presence between campuses.  The campus where he is physically broadcasts the service to the other campus.

Knowing that I am an advocate of celebrating the Eucharist at every Sunday gathering of the congregation and that I am a consecrationist (vs. a receptionist), he asked me if the Celebrant could "transfer" the Eucharistic Prayer to the altar of the satellite campus and have the Eucharist be valid on the other campus. 

This is different in that there is no "videotape" or now digital recording of the Pastor praying the EP over the elements, thereby assuring the congregation that Jesus' Body and Blood are truly present.

I answered that this practice is questionable for the same reasons discussed in these threads.  Why not a Deacon or Emeritus Pastor at the satellite campus to consecrate the elements there instead of doing the remote consecration. 

This question is much more common than the current crisis with COVID.

On another situation:  I offered to my Pastor "Communion on the Hour and Half-hour" where a small group, maintaining appropriate 6' spacing from one another, could congregate and then provide them a simple Holy Communion service with distribution.  I never heard from my Pastor, but I did receive a text from a brother Pastor who went with my idea, and he invited me and my wife to join him at 0945 (he was doing it q 15 minutes).  Hungering for the Medicine of Immortality, we accepted and received the Holy Sacrament this morning.  Since I am a "regular" there to give their Pastor adequate vacation time and time with his family, I often serve on Saturday evening or for the whole weekend, we were welcomed warmly. 

OK, enough moving parts to keep track of.  Blessings, dear sisters and brothers!
The Old Padre Dave Poedel, now retired, coming back to catch up with friends, old and new

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #51 on: March 22, 2020, 09:56:23 PM »
David Charlton  

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Rob Morris

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #52 on: March 22, 2020, 10:47:01 PM »
Thanks to all who replied. I was really looking for a place to hear some other voices and to push hard on some of the same answers I was thinking, but wanted to examine.

In the end, I have explained to my congregation much of what I have read from others here (and, like I said, was already thinking) and I will not be offering consecration via our live-streaming. That decision is made easier for me as I have every intention (with the elders' agreement) to keep our doors open during all our services. And I am there every day for noon prayer, so anyone seeking communion privately knows when and where to find me... And I am offering communion during visitation as I always do... And the gifts are also given by the Word and in absolution and in our baptism...

And, in the end, it is still a mystery exactly how our Lord does what He does in giving us His body and blood. The further we deviate from His clear Word and example, the less the assurance can be.

IOW, a lot of what was already written here, including some of what I was pushing back on. I don't trust my instincts unless I can examine them in the light of Scripture and the Confessions. Otherwise, how can I be sure it isn't just my preference masquerading as truth?

So, anyway - thanks for the input and the willingness to engage in the back-and-forth. Be well and God be with you in these challenging times!
Rob

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #53 on: March 23, 2020, 03:18:27 AM »
Rob Morris writes:
To Charles: "Wherever two or more are gathered in my name..." is now "Wherever two or more are gathered in my name and at least one of them is a pastor

I comment:
No. The Lord is present in the small gatherings, the issue at hand is whether the Lord is present Sacramentally in the elements in so far as we understand the theology of the sacrament. Perhaps this is a matter of ecclesiology and/or church order but it is something to think about.


Your "...something to think about" is atrocious.  Jesus' words do what He says.  You choose to be duplicitous when it come to wonderment about the Lord's presence in the sacrament.


You might read Matthew 18:20 within its context. The presence of two or three appears a few times in that section. It is in reference to a specific situation.

15“If your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you’ve won over your brother or sister. 16But if they won’t listen, take with you one or two others so that every word may be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses.[1] 17But if they still won’t pay attention, report it to the church. If they won’t pay attention even to the church, treat them as you would a Gentile and tax collector. 18I assure you that whatever you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. And whatever you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven. 19Again I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.”

[1] Matthew 18:16: Deuteronomy 19:15

The specific context of the verse is when a fellow Christian has sinned against another and one seeks forgiveness and reconciliation. It isn't about two or three Christians gathered at a football game or the bowling alley. When the two or three gather to confront a sinner with his/her sin against another believer, Christ is present. Christ seeks to have his followers forgive one another and be reconciled. Similarly, v. 19 about prayer doesn't say that if I can get two others to agree with me and pray for a motorcycle or protection from coronavirus, it will happen; but, within this context, when the sinner and the sinned-against come together and agree to pray for forgiveness and reconciliation, it will happen.
"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 #54 on: March 23, 2020, 07:52:41 AM »
Something I would offer for consideration -- communion has almost been individualized to the point that we miss its horizontal aspects.  This is evident in the dispute over closed communion as one example (I do not wish to turn this thread into another discussion of that, however).  It is also evident in things like individual cups to a lesser extent.  I'm here to get my portion of Jesus, not yours or anyone else's.

Some of this may or may not be unique to Eastern Christian liturgics (I do not know enough about the variances of Western Christian liturgics to say), but the following is straight from our liturgies, referring to the gifts:

"Thine Own of Thine Own, we offer unto Thee, in behalf of all, and for all."
-- Divine Liturgy of John Chrysostom (also present in the Liturgy of St. Basil)


"We pray to You and call upon You, O Holy of Holies, that by the favor of Your goodness, Your Holy Spirit may come upon us and upon the gifts here presented, to bless, sanctify, and make this bread to be the precious Body of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ...........And this cup to be the precious Blood of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, shed for the life of the world and its salvation."
-- Divine Liturgy of St. Basil (Anaphora)

I do understand the Lutheran distinction against private masses.  We, for what it's worth, hold the same view, though perhaps not as strictly.  We cannot offer a liturgy with no laity present -- the priest has to have someone besides himself to commune.  Each priest also cannot serve more than 1 liturgy per day.  But I would offer, and perhaps this is where we might find more common ground, that we still offer the Eucharist not only for ourselves, but "for the life of the world and its salvation" as St. Basil says.  We do believe communion of each person is normative, in fact, we center our worship around the Eucharist so tightly that I watch people who say "you can still have church at home with video" and I find it bordering on absurd.  We live stream our services to the faithful too, but we expect those who can attend to be present to receive the gifts.  We find the inability to gather as a family harmful and painful, as if a sick person could not obtain medicine.  But we also trust at such times that we are members of the Church, and it is the Church that is saved, not just me and Jesus holding hands.  So we also trust that the Eucharistic rite is offered for the salvation of the world, not merely of those who partake at our altar, nor even those who partake at any altar.

Christians are baptized and communed.  This is granted.  I do not think it necessary to go to absurd lengths in order to ensure everyone can receive every single time it is offered to the faithful.  We trust in the Lord, and He provides.  For that reason, some of our practices have changed in terms of who may come, how we distribute (we sanitized a set of pure silver spoons to serve as tongs this week, as one example, and we will rotate those as we have communion until this passes, sanitizing in between uses), etc.  But our liturgical rites have not changed, and we do not telecommune anyone.  They get to hear the part where the priest says the things I cite above, and perhaps it is providential that we are celebrating the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil at present so we get to hear them both.
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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #55 on: March 23, 2020, 08:58:37 AM »
We're in the eye of the storm here in Brooklyn and Queens, particularly, in NYC specifically and in the metropolitan NY region generally.  We decided to suspend the conduct of the Divine Service as of yesterday.  We will livestream services of the Word - song and prayer - twice a week on Sunday and Wednesday.  The methodology for distributing the Eucharist to people in their homes is just not there.

A topic that is of great concern to me/us is rituals of mourning and funeral/burial rituals, which are being affected to great degree by social distancing as well as congregant rules now in effect.  This goes along with the second concern which is the loneliness and mental/emotional health issues of those shut in with or without medication.  A young man on such medication had a panic attack and literally leapt from a window last weekend, eventually dying.  Physical contact with the family is off limits.  Only ten people may enter the funeral home at a time, and they may stop even the rotation of the people so ten people in total could only be present.  Only one family member is allowed at the burial.

The short-term and long term effects of fundamental human and spiritual experiences at the time of death is to delay and perhaps even deny the grief process.  Consolation is offered by those in masks.   Extraordinarily painful and difficult times.

Dave Benke

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #56 on: March 23, 2020, 09:15:37 AM »
Alone? No.
Our pal, Martin Luther said this about prayer. His barber asked him about simple prayers and Luther responded with a 20-page letter which was turned in to a booklet published in 1535. The second paragraph I cite is appropriate for those of us who must be separated from each other.
“It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, "Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that." Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day.”

“Never think that you are kneeling or standing alone, rather think that the whole of the Church…are standing there beside you and you are standing among them in a common, united petition which God cannot disdain…There we can find God the Creator, God the Redeemer, God the Holy Spirit, that is, God who daily sanctifies us.”
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis. Preaching and presiding for Episcopalians next Sunday.

readselerttoo

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #57 on: March 23, 2020, 11:42:01 AM »
Rob Morris writes:
To Charles: "Wherever two or more are gathered in my name..." is now "Wherever two or more are gathered in my name and at least one of them is a pastor

I comment:
No. The Lord is present in the small gatherings, the issue at hand is whether the Lord is present Sacramentally in the elements in so far as we understand the theology of the sacrament. Perhaps this is a matter of ecclesiology and/or church order but it is something to think about.


Your "...something to think about" is atrocious.  Jesus' words do what He says.  You choose to be duplicitous when it come to wonderment about the Lord's presence in the sacrament.


You might read Matthew 18:20 within its context. The presence of two or three appears a few times in that section. It is in reference to a specific situation.

15“If your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you’ve won over your brother or sister. 16But if they won’t listen, take with you one or two others so that every word may be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses.[1] 17But if they still won’t pay attention, report it to the church. If they won’t pay attention even to the church, treat them as you would a Gentile and tax collector. 18I assure you that whatever you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. And whatever you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven. 19Again I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.”

[1] Matthew 18:16: Deuteronomy 19:15

The specific context of the verse is when a fellow Christian has sinned against another and one seeks forgiveness and reconciliation. It isn't about two or three Christians gathered at a football game or the bowling alley. When the two or three gather to confront a sinner with his/her sin against another believer, Christ is present. Christ seeks to have his followers forgive one another and be reconciled. Similarly, v. 19 about prayer doesn't say that if I can get two others to agree with me and pray for a motorcycle or protection from coronavirus, it will happen; but, within this context, when the sinner and the sinned-against come together and agree to pray for forgiveness and reconciliation, it will happen.

My point has to do with the issue as to whether the Lord is present or not as Charles Austin seems to challenge in his response.  The issue of duplicity emerges when one rejects Jesus' actual promise that he is there.  Jesus says so. (God says it.  I believe it.  That does it.)  What Jesus says, is done.  No hesitation. The immediate response ought to be affirmation, trust and thanksgiving because the Lord Jesus is God and does not lie about what he says. He is present not based on condition but only on his promise.  Regardless of the context Jesus' word does what Jesus says.  No hesitation.  To hesitate is to fall into unbelief and judgment immediately.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2020, 11:45:02 AM by readselerttoo »

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #58 on: March 23, 2020, 12:14:55 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

I too have been pondering this question.  At the moment my Bishop in Western Iowa discourages doing communion remotely.  My church councils have come to the same conclusion as yours, and while we are streaming our services in a variety of places they will not include the Sacrament.  Instead I am setting aside times in each church building where I am available for individual or small groups of less then 10 to celebrate the sacrament of the Altar, much like I do with my folks in nursing homes.  Not ideal but better than nothing.  I do think a case can be made for expanding our understanding of community to include remote by video celebration, but that is a long and careful conversation.
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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #59 on: March 23, 2020, 12:30:08 PM »
George T. Rahn writes:
My point has to do with the issue as to whether the Lord is present or not as Charles Austin seems to challenge in his response.  The issue of duplicity emerges when one rejects Jesus' actual promise that he is there.  Jesus says so. (God says it.  I believe it.  That does it.)  What Jesus says, is done.

I comment:
I do not believe you paid attention to the distinction I made. Yes, the Lord is present when Christians gather. The issue at hand is whether we should be assured of and should teach that the sacramental presence to which we so often refer, which we reverence, and on which we have laid a big pile of theology and pastoral practice is effected through the various practices (tele-celebration, etc.).
I say the Lord can be anywhere the Lord decides to be; but what we teach about where and how God is present has its limitations.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis. Preaching and presiding for Episcopalians next Sunday.