Under “normal” circumstances, our non-liturgical church observes Communion on the first Sunday of each month and at special times, such as Good Friday.
With federal and local COVID-19 “stay at home” regulations limiting public gatherings and personal proximities, our leadership has chosen to surrender to God, but also submit to “all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honesty,” for we know that “this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Tim. 2:2).
This has negatively impacted our ability to share the spiritual strengthening “union” of “Communion” with our brothers and sisters in Christ. So, our pastors have wisely incorporated the observance of Communion within our weekly videocasts each Sunday online (thechurchontheway.org/live/), on Facebook.com (/myTCOTW) and Instagram.com (@mytcotw).
Each family, participating in their homes, is encouraged to prepare some bread or crackers, along with “the fruit of the vine,” and follow the instructions of the video pastor, in taking of these significant elements. Receiving the cup, individually by each believer, is representative of the blood of Christ and the breaking of bread is collective identification with His body (1 Cor. 11:23-25).
Prayerful participation, there among their own family members, confirms a covenant of spiritual commitment laterally, as certainly as it does vertically, between God and each believer in Christ.
The apostle Paul quotes Jesus as saying to the disciples at the Last Supper, “Do this…in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:25). Then Paul instructs: “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (v. 26). He further taught us that we are not to partake of these elements “unworthily” (v. 27).
It is not a discernment of whether we are worthy to participate in Communion, but of any failure to attribute the full worth of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. “For this reason, many are weak and unhealthy among you, and many die” (1 Cor. 11:30). He, alone, is “worthy” (Rev. 4:11) and, because of Him and His cross, we are to “walk” in His worthiness (Eph. 4:1-5).
We are called to participate in the fruit of our Lord’s death, not to reenact a ritual review of His sufferings on Calvary. This participation in Holy Communion “as often” as we may wish is meant to release celebration, not solemn self-flagellation. It is an occasion for sharing in the triumph of the cross, the power of its provisions and the joy of our hope in His soon return.
Some might find this family-based observance of the Lord’s table different and maybe alarming because it is not necessarily administered by an ordained clergy member, one set apart for this “sacerdotal duty.” But the only biblical requirements of this righteous celebration are: (1) that Jesus Himself be the central focus of the worship experience and (2) that prepared hearts approach His table reverently.
Pastor Jack Hayford has written that he rejoices “that thousands I have taught know and practice the celebration of His Table in their homes. In times of special challenge to faith or spiritual warfare, the bread and the cup are observed at home ‘as often’ as they choose.” In fact, many who sat under his teaching and ministry still continue this holy habit of sensitive, private Communion times frequently, some even daily, claiming New Covenant blessings and the joyous exercise of and edification from their spiritual language (1 Cor. 14:2-4)!
One Bread and One Body
Observing Holy Communion together while “social distancing” during this global pandemic, whether participating at home, online or in person with other believers, where and when that’s possible, can help keep us integrated as members of one body as we partake together of Him, in faith. Paul writes, “For we, being many, are one bread and one body, for we are all partakers of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17).
“To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen“ (Eph. 3:21).
Ordained to the ministry in 1969, Gary Curtis is a graduate of LIFE Bible College at Los Angeles (soon to become Life Pacific University at San Dimas, California). He has taken graduate courses at Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois, and Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. Gary served as part of the pastoral staff of The Church on The Way, the First Foursquare Church of Van Nuys, California, for 27 years (1988-2015); and served for the last 13 years as the vice president of Life on The Way Communications Inc., the church’s not-for-profit media outreach. Now retired, Gary and his wife have been married for 50 years and live in Southern California. They have two married daughters and five grandchildren.