Author Topic: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?  (Read 45278 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #315 on: April 03, 2020, 03:05:00 AM »
In my view, this is really a fallacy. Yes, we are in extraordinary times in many respects. But in other respects, we are not at all in extraordinary times...

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/april/most-churches-have-stopped-gathering-few-plan-to-meet-on-ea.html

When 93% of churches have closed their doors, I think we have probably met the threshold for extraordinary times. Then the discussion can ensue what is to be done in extraordinary times... and that discussion should be honest and even include the voices that make us a bit uncomfortable.

I don't agree with the practice of live-streamed communion. But I believe those who would pronounce it heretical had better have more Biblical and Confessional passages in mind than what I have seen. Heteropraxy? Yup. Heterodoxy? Quite possibly. Heresy? As in... people risk hell for believing it? Ummm...

And as I started the thread - livestreaming the Service of the Word while the church doors are locked is also an innovation, unknown to the church until right now. Why is that innovation not opposed by the same Confessional passages that oppose de novo activities? Why fast only from communion? These are questions that deserve some air-time as well.

So, the discussion should be had: what does it mean to be the church in extraordinary times?

But loading up the circular firing squad isn't the answer. And, in fairness, neither is sniping back at them.


While live streaming is new, televising worship service is nearly as old as television.
"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]

Charles Austin

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #316 on: April 03, 2020, 04:01:10 AM »
FWIW, churches have not “closed” or “locked” their doors. The church I attend is open every day, with one of the pastors always there, 9am to 4:30pm.
I don’t know what goes on, but I know if I were there and someone came, we would sit 6-8 feet apart and talk. And if appropriate, I would offer the Sacrament, just as I used to do in visiting shut-ins. The mass kit would be on my desk, and we could do this while maintaining the no-contact, proper distance protocol.
Right now, I do not find anything appealing or theologically or pastorally sound about “streaming” the sacrament or “telecommunion.” Feels too much like the late Oral Roberts years ago asking viewers to put their hand on the TV set to receive a blessing. We heard some people wrote and asked whether the brand of the set mattered.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Back home from Sioux City after three days and a pleasant reunion of the East High School class of - can you believe it! - 1959.

Rob Morris

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #317 on: April 03, 2020, 08:06:27 AM »
In my view, this is really a fallacy. Yes, we are in extraordinary times in many respects. But in other respects, we are not at all in extraordinary times...

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2020/april/most-churches-have-stopped-gathering-few-plan-to-meet-on-ea.html

When 93% of churches have closed their doors, I think we have probably met the threshold for extraordinary times. Then the discussion can ensue what is to be done in extraordinary times... and that discussion should be honest and even include the voices that make us a bit uncomfortable.

I don't agree with the practice of live-streamed communion. But I believe those who would pronounce it heretical had better have more Biblical and Confessional passages in mind than what I have seen. Heteropraxy? Yup. Heterodoxy? Quite possibly. Heresy? As in... people risk hell for believing it? Ummm...

And as I started the thread - livestreaming the Service of the Word while the church doors are locked is also an innovation, unknown to the church until right now. Why is that innovation not opposed by the same Confessional passages that oppose de novo activities? Why fast only from communion? These are questions that deserve some air-time as well.

So, the discussion should be had: what does it mean to be the church in extraordinary times?

But loading up the circular firing squad isn't the answer. And, in fairness, neither is sniping back at them.


While live streaming is new, televising worship service is nearly as old as television.

But televising worship while preventing anyone from attending is not.

Rob Morris

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #318 on: April 03, 2020, 08:11:09 AM »
FWIW, churches have not “closed” or “locked” their doors. The church I attend is open every day, with one of the pastors always there, 9am to 4:30pm.
I don’t know what goes on, but I know if I were there and someone came, we would sit 6-8 feet apart and talk. And if appropriate, I would offer the Sacrament, just as I used to do in visiting shut-ins. The mass kit would be on my desk, and we could do this while maintaining the no-contact, proper distance protocol.
And offering this while prohibiting public worship is your church's usual practice? Or an innovation necessitated by the current realities?

My point isn't that the solution is wrong, but that it, too, is novel.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2020, 08:20:48 AM by Rob Morris »

Dave Benke

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #319 on: April 03, 2020, 08:50:20 AM »
The pastor's video is arresting.  Not only in the sense that he/his church's practice have been placed under arrest, but in the sense that he speaks literally from his deathbed there in the sanctuary.  The procedure or protocol in these times is somewhat foreshortened, although I don't have the updated bylaws in hand so I could be wrong.  The pastors who went to the district president didn't, apparently, speak with the pastor at all to remonstrate, discuss, pray or otherwise interact with him.  Which when I was a district president, I would have spoken to those two pastors about - talk to the brother and let him know about what he and his congregation has done.  Listen to the brother as well.  No doubt in this case the brother/pastor now understands that he's officially been abandoned by the wider church body in a pastoral way at his life's end, quarantined into the grave.  Maybe that can be and is being repaired; I would hope so.  I did serve for I think two of my terms with that DP, and he was both evangelical and pastoral in his approach. 

Once again, the point of reference for the discussion is the threat to and abrogation of the pastoral office.  At least that's the way the theological approach is explained in the video.  A more comprehensive theological approach, as articulated by Hinlicky, is not presented either in this video or in the connections to online blogs like Gottesdienst.  They are protecting the ordained clergy role as the linchpin of what church is.  Of course, there's way more to it than that, as Hinlicky and I'm sure others (Kolb?) teach and articulate.  And in that sense, there is way more opportunity to present an enduring direction for our interaction with society as well as our own fellowships.

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Charles Austin

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #320 on: April 03, 2020, 09:03:28 AM »
Pastor Morris, my comment is only a slight textual protest concerning the language which says that churches are "closed" with their doors "locked."
Nothing we do these days is "normal" in the grand sense, but so long as we and our fellow Christians have breath and so long as the Spirit inspires us to preach and teach and serve, churches, or more importantly, "The Church" is not closed, its doors are not locked.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Back home from Sioux City after three days and a pleasant reunion of the East High School class of - can you believe it! - 1959.

Dave Benke

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #321 on: April 03, 2020, 09:05:22 AM »
Something brewing in my noggin that may be ripe for live-streaming among our memberships.  And I'm sure it's being done in zoom formats already. 

This is going to be a tough Sunday for me/us in Brooklyn.  Because it has been for a full biblical generation of 40 years the Sunday when those preparing for Holy Communion receive their first Eucharist.  And one of the questions I always ask in the public examination of those 9-10 year olds is to give other words for Holy Communion, one of which is invariably "Eucharist."  And someone or two of the kids then always volunteer to spell it for the congregation, and say what it means. 

In the teaching format, we begin by talking with the kids about their family mealtime habits, because we're going to be talking about a Holy Meal.   And then the kids recount their family mealtime habits, which in working class/working poor households tend to be catch as catch can, because shift workers and two job workers can't be scheduled to sit everyone down together. 

That has changed.  Dramatically.  So people are eating with family together.  My thought is to ask congregants once a week/month/whatever we figure out to eat together at a given time, with as many of us as possible at the online zoom table.  And we'd share recipes, conversation, how we've changed in the way we spend our mealtime, whether there's enough, etc.  And in that way whether through the zoom thing or just by interaction kind of re-boot, re-sanctify a habit I certainly grew up with which was the family meal with prayers before and after and a devotion at the table from Little Visits with God.  I'm going to push that this morning to my congregational email/phone list and see what happens. 

Because something is happening - people in family groups are eating together in the same space like never before.  It's not the Sacrament, but it is sacramental.

Dave Benke

Rob Morris

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #322 on: April 03, 2020, 09:22:51 AM »
Pastor Morris, my comment is only a slight textual protest concerning the language which says that churches are "closed" with their doors "locked."
Nothing we do these days is "normal" in the grand sense, but so long as we and our fellow Christians have breath and so long as the Spirit inspires us to preach and teach and serve, churches, or more importantly, "The Church" is not closed, its doors are not locked.

I hear you, and I think yours is an important point to maintain... In terms of hours of availability, some churches are more open than ever before - a nice message to get out to people, indeed.

But I still stand by my statement, which read: livestreaming the Service of the Word while the church doors are locked is also an innovation. Most churches are livestreaming services while preventing parishioners from attendance. And that is novel in the 2000-year life of the church. But this novelty has raised very few eyebrows, and some raised eyebrows have not been raised very far. And that surprises me.

Charles Austin

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #323 on: April 03, 2020, 11:32:50 AM »
I'm not sure I understand, Pastor Morris, why "preventing parishioners from attendance" in this situation should raise eyebrows. If the building department told me the roof was about to fall in, I would prevent people from coming to church. So if the dangers of infection, transmission of a terrible virus, or disease existed when people came to church, why should we not tell them: "Right now, don't come, we won't have services"?
I wonder if, in the days of persecution those earliest centuries, whether the elders of the community might have said at times "The Romans are really on the prowl for us this week; let's not get together."?
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Back home from Sioux City after three days and a pleasant reunion of the East High School class of - can you believe it! - 1959.

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #324 on: April 03, 2020, 11:51:08 AM »
having now been accosted and lambasted by both sides on this issue in the past 24 hours, I see sound, doctrinal arguments for both abstaining AND providing uniform elements to parishioners and consecrating via live stream format.

No matter what, I'm gonna be damned if I do, and damned if I don't. 

And considering the vitriol coming from "the other side," I seriously doubt that anyone outside of those watching/our own members will ever be told what we did or did not do at this point.  My ultimate purpose is to continue to be the pastor to those I've been called to, to proclaim the name of Christ crucified and risen, and the praise the name of the triune God.

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Rob Morris

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #325 on: April 03, 2020, 11:53:57 AM »
I'm not sure I understand, Pastor Morris, why "preventing parishioners from attendance" in this situation should raise eyebrows. If the building department told me the roof was about to fall in, I would prevent people from coming to church. So if the dangers of infection, transmission of a terrible virus, or disease existed when people came to church, why should we not tell them: "Right now, don't come, we won't have services"?
I wonder if, in the days of persecution those earliest centuries, whether the elders of the community might have said at times "The Romans are really on the prowl for us this week; let's not get together."?
Except services are still happening. In the building. But no one is allowed to come. Nor can they simply move to a different location and meet there, as they could if the roof were collapsing. No invective here: if you don't see the difference, I think I may be at a loss to explain it. And this inability to see the difference is part of what surprises me in the church's response as a collective.

One last try, though: if this happened 25 years ago, before the advent of broadband, most churches' plans would look entirely different than they do today. How can that not represent innovation? Yet some innovations are opposed because they are innovations and some innovations are not... that's my last and best attempt to articulate what I am getting at.

Peace in Christ,
Rob

Charles Austin

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #326 on: April 03, 2020, 11:55:22 AM »
I think, and someone can correct me, that the advice from both LCMS and ELCA superiors about "telecommunion" or "streaming" consecrations is: Don't.
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Steven W Bohler

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #327 on: April 03, 2020, 12:06:11 PM »
I think, and someone can correct me, that the advice from both LCMS and ELCA superiors about "telecommunion" or "streaming" consecrations is: Don't.

Well, we don't have "superiors" in the LCMS, but as far as I know only one district president has given the OK.  The rest have either said nothing or discouraged or said "no".

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #328 on: April 03, 2020, 12:17:10 PM »
I'm not sure I understand, Pastor Morris, why "preventing parishioners from attendance" in this situation should raise eyebrows. If the building department told me the roof was about to fall in, I would prevent people from coming to church. So if the dangers of infection, transmission of a terrible virus, or disease existed when people came to church, why should we not tell them: "Right now, don't come, we won't have services"?
I wonder if, in the days of persecution those earliest centuries, whether the elders of the community might have said at times "The Romans are really on the prowl for us this week; let's not get together."?
Except services are still happening. In the building. But no one is allowed to come. Nor can they simply move to a different location and meet there, as they could if the roof were collapsing. No invective here: if you don't see the difference, I think I may be at a loss to explain it. And this inability to see the difference is part of what surprises me in the church's response as a collective.

One last try, though: if this happened 25 years ago, before the advent of broadband, most churches' plans would look entirely different than they do today. How can that not represent innovation? Yet some innovations are opposed because they are innovations and some innovations are not... that's my last and best attempt to articulate what I am getting at.

Peace in Christ,
Rob

It isn't simply that this is an innovation.  It is that it introduces doubt into the Sacrament.  When the pastor first used a microphone when he spoke the Words of Institution, that was an innovation but no one wondered if it was the Sacrament.  However, when a pastor speaks the words and neither the elements nor the recipients are there, there is doubt.  What is the "this" of "this is My Body...this is My Blood"?  Who is the "for you"?  Who is giving this (the pastor, who stands in the stead of Christ, is not handing it to the recipient)?  That's a lot of doubt, from a lot of places: the giver, what is given, to whom it is given? 

Rob Morris

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Re: Worship can be livestreamed, but communion can't?
« Reply #329 on: April 03, 2020, 12:44:20 PM »
I'm not sure I understand, Pastor Morris, why "preventing parishioners from attendance" in this situation should raise eyebrows. If the building department told me the roof was about to fall in, I would prevent people from coming to church. So if the dangers of infection, transmission of a terrible virus, or disease existed when people came to church, why should we not tell them: "Right now, don't come, we won't have services"?
I wonder if, in the days of persecution those earliest centuries, whether the elders of the community might have said at times "The Romans are really on the prowl for us this week; let's not get together."?
Except services are still happening. In the building. But no one is allowed to come. Nor can they simply move to a different location and meet there, as they could if the roof were collapsing. No invective here: if you don't see the difference, I think I may be at a loss to explain it. And this inability to see the difference is part of what surprises me in the church's response as a collective.

One last try, though: if this happened 25 years ago, before the advent of broadband, most churches' plans would look entirely different than they do today. How can that not represent innovation? Yet some innovations are opposed because they are innovations and some innovations are not... that's my last and best attempt to articulate what I am getting at.

Peace in Christ,
Rob

It isn't simply that this is an innovation.  It is that it introduces doubt into the Sacrament.  When the pastor first used a microphone when he spoke the Words of Institution, that was an innovation but no one wondered if it was the Sacrament.  However, when a pastor speaks the words and neither the elements nor the recipients are there, there is doubt.  What is the "this" of "this is My Body...this is My Blood"?  Who is the "for you"?  Who is giving this (the pastor, who stands in the stead of Christ, is not handing it to the recipient)?  That's a lot of doubt, from a lot of places: the giver, what is given, to whom it is given?

Just for the record: I totally agree with all you've written here.