We celebrate communion or the Lord's Supper (or Eucharist in some traditions) at Peace on the first Sunday of each month and at our annual Good Friday service. All communing members of gospel-believing churches are invited to participate with us.
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus in Matthew 26:26-28.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q & A 96 describes the Lord's Supper in this way:
Q: What is the Lord's Supper?
A: The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament in which, by giving and receiving bread and wine according to Christ’s appointment, his death is proclaimed, and those who receive rightly are by faith (and not by the mouth in a physical manner) made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.
Question and Answer 97
Q: What is required to receive rightly the Lord's Supper?
A: It is required of those who would receive rightly the Lord’s Supper, that they examine themselves as to their knowledge of the meaning and object of this sacrament, their faith to feed upon Christ, and their repentance, love and new obedience; for coming in an unworthy manner would bring judgment on themselves.
Why Peace is not offering or recommending Virtual Communion
Both the Old Testament and New Testament clearly speak of the physically gathered worship assembly. Paul, when addressing the Corinthian Church in I Corinthians 11, continually uses the phrase “when you come together” (vv. 17, 18, 20, 33, 34), meaning that the church is physically gathered together. While neither the authors of the NT, nor those of the Westminster Confession could conceive of the invention of the internet, the consistent Reformed position is that we should not have “virtual communion”.
There is no example or teaching in the Bible which suggests we can have communion apart from one another, in other words, the pastor, elders, and congregation need to be physically together. Look at Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and I Corinthians 11:20-22.
There is no requirement that a sacrament is administered at any particular worship service. A worship service is valid without communion (or baptism). The word of God read and preached is required at every worship service, but the "visible word" of a sacrament is not. For now, let's all pray and wait patiently on the Lord as we "hunger and thirst" to take the Supper together.
The elders have a collective responsibility to ensure that those who are unable to take communion properly -- those who are not communicant members or who are under church discipline -- do not take the Supper. Similarly, we have a pastoral duty to encourage those who wrongly withhold communion from themselves to participate.
"Virtual communion" prevents this kind of accountability of care from the elders, since we would be encouraging participation in the holy meal without being able to observe those who are (and are not) participating.
Therefore, we are not to have private communion, particularly in our homes with only our family present. While it is true that we are spiritually joined to Christ and to other believers, that doesn’t mean that we can be physically apart to partake of communion.
If you are unable to participate in communion at church due to health issues and would like to receive communion, please contact either Pastor Doug or Pastor Ken, and one of them, along with some elders, will come and bring communion to you.
There are some unusual circumstances in which communion may occur, but in the Reformed tradition, none of them can be at home with your own version of wine/grape juice & crackers. Let’s pray that we will all be able to gather together in person soon and receive communion.
A few helpful articles: