Dear Emmanuel Church Family,

Happy Easter! In these times of restrictions and with sickness and death being more in the news and in the forefront of our minds, the good news of Jesus’ resurrection is even more wonderful to hear this year than it normally would be. I hope it moves your heart to know that Jesus is Lord and that he has defeated death and so is our strength for today and hope for tomorrow.

I also hope you are coping with the restrictions we are living through and that you are managing to be in touch with others from Emmanuel for mutual support. Please use the church family directory as a tool for praying for one another as well as for being in touch.

A few people have asked me whether we might be able to have communion in our online services. You may well have heard of other churches that are doing this – possibly with everyone getting some bread and wine ready in their own homes and all eating and drinking at the same time. While I can understand that this would in some ways be a comforting thing to do, having been in touch with John Birchall at Christ Church to see what they are doing and having chatted to the wardens and staff team we don’t feel this would be something we should be doing and I wanted to explain why.

The main reason for not taking communion ‘virtually’ is that it would take away some of the symbolism of communion. There are 2 main things that we are to focus on when we take communion. The first is Jesus’ death for us when he took the punishment we deserve and achieved our forgiveness. This is the aspect we focus on most when we have communion. But there is a second part to the symbolism, which Paul writes about in 1Corinthians. Communion also says something about our relationships with one another. In 1Corinthians 10:17 Paul, talking about communion, says: ‘Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.’ Now this might well not be something we think about so much when we take communion, but Paul is telling us that it is significant that we all share one loaf, it symbolises the fact that we are one body. Being one body means we are joined to one another, we need one another and we are to use our gifts to build one another up (this is how Paul develops the ‘body’ imagery in 1Cor 12). Communion symbolises that unity through us sharing one loaf. So if we were each to sit in our homes with our own loaves of bread and our own wine, what would that symbolise? Well it wouldn’t symbolise what Paul says it should. In our individualistic culture we need to be very careful to remind ourselves that we are one body, and that we need one another.

So overall it is better to wait. Online church is good for now, but let’s not mistake it for the real thing. Let’s look forward to being together, to being able to take communion together and doing so enjoying all it symbolises – our forgiveness through Christ’s death and our unity as one body.

I am very happy to chat, or email, with those who want to ask anything more about this.