A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Connected by Communion

Friends, this Sunday is the first Sunday of May, so we will be celebrating the sacrament of Communion together during both livestream worship services. You may remember us doing this for the first time on Palm Sunday last month.

Theologically, for us, it actually works quite well: in Reformed theology (the theological tradition from which Presbyterians come), Christ is truly present in the sacrament of Communion, rather than simply remembered, but he is present through the power of the Holy Spirit rather than anything being done to the elements (bread and wine/juice) themselves. And the Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of moving through digital space as well as physical space, as we have experienced over and over again during our digital worship services since mid-March.

Even so, I have to admit I did not expect to find the experience of sharing Communion digitally to be as moving as it was. In the actual moment, I had to imagine all of your faces participating in your own home, because the downside of Facebook Live is you can see the worship leaders, but we can’t see you!

Nevertheless, I felt the Spirit connecting us in that spiritual act of Communion, and it is communion, with God and one another, that all of us are particularly hungry for in these days of quarantine and distancing. And afterwards, some of you posted your own preparations for Communion on Facebook or Instagram, which was both moving and delightful to see.

So I’m going to ask you to be intentional about that: when you have made your preparations, take a photo of them and send it to info@fpc-bethlehem.org, and we will collate them and use in the church’s social media (as we are in the process of doing from the “receiving/sharing hope” photos from last Sunday). That way we can all see how we are experiencing Communion together.

Finally, let me recap what you will need to do to participate. First, you’ll need to secure elements. Ideally, that would be some form of bread and either wine (fortified wine such as port is fine, too) or grape juice. That said, please do not make a special trip to secure any of those elements if you don’t have them.

The closest you can get to bread will be fine: pita, bagel, or tortilla would be great; but crackers or anything else resembling bread will be good. And water is always a good alternative, but any fruit juice is a solid choice as well. Second: arrange the elements for your family and take a photo before we begin communion and send it in to info@fpc-bethlehem.org!

Looking forward to being in worship with you on Sunday.

Grace and peace,