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Open and Gathered Community - Thoughts on Online Communion
Back in April, I announced my decision not to do online communion while we were physically apart. I stated that, ďI believe it is a sacrament that is rightly performed in the context of an Ďopen, and gathered community.í Yes, we are gathered together online for worship, but I donít think Iím saying anything you donít know when I say itís not the same. Itís good, and important, and valuable, but itís not the same.Ē†

I also said, ďPlease know I didnít come to this decision lightly, and itís not necessarily a final decision. I do not know what the future holdsónone of us do.Ē†

Well, I can guarantee that when I wrote those words I had no concept of how long we would be physically apart. I still believe that holy communion is a sacrament that is rightly performed in the context of an open and gathered community. However, my understanding of an ďopen and gathered communityĒ has evolved over the past several months. I have felt a sense of community online that I didnít know was possible. And I believe more fully that Godís Spirit can move through space in ways I honestly didnít think were possible before.†

I admit that I was limiting Godís ability with my own capacity to understandóit didnít make sense how God could move through the internet and connect us no matter what time we were watching or where we were watching from. And a piece of me wanted to make sure that you were paying attention during the celebration of holy communionóthat you werenít doing dishes or working on a project while worshipping, then pause and take communion like a snack, and then go back to doing whatever it was you were doing.†

But all of that is more about me, isnít it? Itís about me limiting Godís ability to work in mysterious ways. And itís about me wanting to have control over the table. And itís also about the Church and its traditions and doctrines, rather than God doing old things in new ways.†

Even though I know full-well that communion isnít about me or the church. Itís about us experiencing the unconditional love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Having an open table means that we believe God can work within and through the mess of our lives to bring redemption to anyone and everyone.

All of that is to say that I have changed my mind. Through lots of prayer and discussion with our staff and my colleagues, I have decided that we will be celebrating Holy Communion online during our January 3rd worship service. That Sunday we will have a special ďCovenant Renewal Service,Ē where we will take the opportunity a new year brings us and renew our covenant of love and commitment to God. So I invite you to get your communion elements readyósome bread or crackers and juice or, dare I say, wineóand join us as we celebrate and remember the holy mystery that is Godís unconditional and sacrificial love for us.†

If you do not feel comfortable participating in communion online, that is perfectly okóyou are welcome to meditate on the words of the sacrament and remember Godís redeeming love.†

As we move into this new year, I pray that we might evolve and grow in our understanding of what God is capable of and truly allow God to lead usóas individuals and a churchóto the incredible things we havenít even imagined yet.†

Take care,†

Pastor Heidi

Rev. Heidi Welch, Senior Pastor