March 25, 2021 A Reflection from Pastor Emilie Finn
Dear People of God,
Almost exactly a year ago, as we all slowly became aware that the shutdown of public worship services and gatherings was going to be longer than the few weeks we thought at first, a dear friend of mine, a brilliant theologian and seminary professor whose husband is a priest in the Church of England, made a one-sentence post on Facebook that immediately caught my attention:
“Even though we cannot break bread together, we are one body because we have shared in the one bread.”
Probably because Holy Week was approaching, Emily’s Facebook post made me think of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples in the Gospel of John, as he is preparing them to have his physical presence taken away from them:
“I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. … I ask not only on behalf of these, but on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us…so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me…so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:11, 20-21, 23)
I knew last March that many of us at All Saints’ felt that the physical presence of Christ that we had come to know in our community, in our church building, in our music and prayers, and in the Eucharist, had been snatched away from us as surely as Jesus was snatched from his disciples after that Last Supper, and I wondered if I could write a prayer that expressed some of this, that we could all say together in the place of Communion during online worship.
This became the “Prayer for Spiritual Communion” that we said together through most of last spring. I want to give it to you, in case you still find yourself in the position of being unable to receive communion, or in case you ever find yourself in that position again. It belongs to all of us:
A Prayer for Spiritual Communion (to be said by the clergy and people together)
Almighty God, you promised through our Lord Jesus Christ that where two or three are gathered together in his name, you will be in the midst of them. We ask you to be in the midst of us now, though we are far apart, and to bind us to one another, and to you, through the power of your Holy Spirit. In that one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, and though we cannot break bread together, we know that we are one body because we have all shared in the one bread. We ask this not only on behalf of those of us gathered in this moment, but also on behalf of those who will be with us in the Spirit at the time they hear these words. Just as you, Father, are in the Son, and he in you, so may we also be in you, and Christ in us, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
And if you are back with us in person now, but want to continue to remember how deeply we are connected to one another and to God in Christ, I have recently re-worked the prayer into a prayer that can be said, publicly or privately, before you receive communion:
A Prayer Before Communion (to be said before receiving communion)
Almighty God, you promised through our Lord Jesus Christ that where two or three are gathered together in his name, you will be in the midst of them. We ask you to be in the midst of us now, and to bind us to one another, and to you, through the power of your Holy Spirit. In that one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body, and through that one Spirit, we all share in the one bread. Just as you, Father, are in the Son, and he in you, so may we also be in you, and Christ in us, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I wish all of you a holy Passiontide, and a glorious feast of the Resurrection. I am so glad to be able to pray with you through it, whether we are together in person, or together in the Spirit of Christ.