Many of us are, I am sure, feeling deeply unsettled by our inability to receive Holy Communion. This has been a source of much discussion (and some differences of opinion!) amongst clergy as try to work out how we can best respond to this yearning in so many. I would like to share with you part of a letter recently written to the clergy and Readers of the Diocese by Bishop Robert:
“The Eucharist is a core element of our Anglican spiritual practice. The word ‘Eucharist’ relates to a verb: it is fundamentally something we, the whole people of God, do. It is the activity of thanking God the Father as a gathered community in which we offer praise and thanksgiving through Christ our Lord. The Eucharist is very important, life-giving and life-sustaining, but when it cannot be received, God can still bless us, be with us, feed us.
During these times when the community cannot gather, most of us will be fasting from the Eucharist. This is hard, especially when we feel that Lenten discipline should be moving into Easter joy. Nonetheless, most of us will, in these times of crisis, not be receiving the elements of holy communion this Easter Sunday, and that includes us as your bishops. We await in eager anticipation an occasion, hopefully within the Easter season, when the community can gather again to make Eucharist.
Many will be familiar with the tradition (set out in the rubrics for the service of the Visitation of the Sick in the Book of Common Prayer and Canon B15) of making a spiritual communion. This practice embodies an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the sacrament and to know his loving embrace as though we had received him in the elements. We attach a possible service order for this (see link below) that some may wish to use, for example on Easter Sunday.“
I have been in discussion with my clergy colleagues here in Aquitaine and we have decided that our Easter morning service will include a celebration of the Eucharist. Whilst it will still not be possible to share the bread and wine physically, I do hope that you will all feel that, as Ingrid and I receive those elements, you too will be able to sense that you share that reception with us.
Together with Bishop Robert, I long for the time when we can, once again, be together to worship, pray and share Communion physically rather than virtually. Hopefully that will be during the Easter season (which ends at Pentecost on 31st May) but even if it is not, we are always ‘Easter People’ celebrating the Resurrection each time that we meet in the name of the Risen Christ.
We are now just about to enter into the sombre time of Holy Week so we must lay aside, for a short time, our focus on resurrection as we journey with Jesus along the road that will take us to Calvary on Friday.
With every blessing for a Holy Week. Tony.