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PLUM Churches:

Bethany (Dormont)

Christ (Duquesne)

East Liberty

Hope (Forest Hills)

Luth. Church of Our Saviour

Messiah (Munhall)

Resurrection (Oakdale)

St. Andrew (East Carnegie)

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Trinity (Mt. Oliver)

Zion (Coraopolis)

       

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Newletter

May 2020

 

Click HERE for a fully illustrated, printable copy

 

 

Longing for Holy Communion

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

In the night in which He was betrayed,

our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;

broke it, and gave to his disciples, saying:

Take and eat; this is my body given for you.

Do this for the remembrance of me.

 

Again, after supper, He took the cup,

gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying:

This cup is the new covenant in my blood,

shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. 

Do this for the remembrance of me.

 

For as often as we eat of this bread and drink from this cup,

we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.[1]

 

Have you been longing to hear those words? Are you eagerly waiting for the time when we can come together and once again be in fellowship and share this beloved sacrament in our respective church sanctuaries?  When will that be?  On March 15, when we started this journey of suspending our in-person worship to care for each other by honoring the physical distancing guidelines, did we think that it would be this long before we were able to gather once again?  What about communion?  Not during Holy Week and Easter!  We didn’t even get the opportunity to do it one last time to prepare ourselves. 

 

During this COVID-19 pandemic we have experienced many losses ...the inability to hug love ones, see our friends and church families.  We have had to make many adjustments…limited time in the grocery stores, wearing masks and gloves, working from home or not working, and even worshipping through technology.  While we have valiantly adapted to each of those expectations, one of the hardest has been not gathering for Holy Communion! How much longer?  Other churches are doing it, so why not us?  It is “unLutheran” not to have communion every week!  I need it to get me going each week!

 

We acknowledge the longing for communion in our weekly worship. Yes, as Lutherans the sacrament of communion is an important part of how we experience the presence of Jesus.  For many coming before God, confessing our sins and seeking forgiveness seems fully attained when we engage in the Lord’s Supper.  So on what basis are we justifying this absence?  There are several factors that have guided the PLUM Pastoral Team:

 

·        On the most basic, practical level, WE have not been able to identify a safe way to administer the sacrament without putting someone at risk.  We have reviewed all the various techniques and have not landed on one.  Reducing the risk of infecting each other is the very reason we are physically distancing.  We believe it would be irresponsible of us to place any of our flock in harm’s way.

·        Equally important is the why of communion.  As Lutherans we believe that Jesus is present in the reading and preaching of the gospel.  Martin Luther argues that it is through the reading and hearing of the text (the Biblical scripture) that Jesus “forgives us, heals us, and raises us from the dead.”[2] Luther also wrote that the Lord’s Supper is a proclamation of the Gospel.  It is not a magical act but rather a visible form of the Word.  To put it more plainly, the presence of Jesus, the Word made flesh (John 1:1-4).  Communion reminds us of our forgiveness but it is not the source.  It points us to the source – Jesus! When we come together for Bible Study we experience Jesus. Each Sunday we gather for worship we are still experiencing Jesus.  Differently, yes!  We remain consistent in our belief by engaging in a Service of the Word.

·        Finally, both Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and Bishop Kurt Kusserow have encouraged us to care for the body – you – by fasting from communion until we are able to practice this discipline safely in community with each other.  Communion in our individual spaces would be like preparing a huge thanksgiving feast and eating it alone. It misrepresents what is intended- the gathering and assembling around Word and Sacrament.  Jesus intended for the meal to be shared in community.  It was how He ate the last meal with his disciples.  Communion is a discipline we do when as the body of Christ we gather in fellowship together. And we look forward to being able to do so once again.

WE understand not gathering, not having Holy Communion is difficult. We are all longing for this beloved sacrament.  Yet how grateful we are that Jesus’ abiding presence remains with us always even until such time as we are able to gather again. We encourage you to seek Jesus’ presence in the reading and hearing of the Biblical word.  We offer this prayer to include in your devotion time.

 

Prayer of Holy Commitment

Beloved Jesus,

I believe that you are present in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

I love you above all things, and I desire to experience your presence more fully through the sharing of your body and blood.

Since I cannot at this moment receive you physically,

I trust you to be present with me spiritually and abide in my heart.

I embrace you because you are already here and I unite myself wholly to you.

Never permit me to be separated from you.  Amen.[3]

 

The peace of Christ be with us all,

Pastor Brenda

On behalf of the PLUM Pastoral Team

 

[1] Evangelical Lutheran Worship , setting one, pg 109

[2] Tim Wengert

[3] Adapted from the Act of Spiritual Communion

 

         

   
 

Pittsburgh Lutheran United Ministries (PLUM), 405 Kennedy Avenue, Duquesne, PA 15110        412-466-7773