We were very blessed this past Sunday to return to normal Sunday worship with 50 people in attendance. It was a very “low-key” re-opening. This coming Sunday, though, is Pentecost, the day the Holy Ghost descended upon the Church of Christ in this world. We will celebrate with all the beauty of holiness of our Anglican tradition. The choir will be back this Sunday, as well as a full compliment of altar servers. At the 11:00 a.m. Holy Communion, we will have a festal procession through the church, which means we will be using incense. We will once again sing all of our wonderful hymns. In short, we will celebrate this day as any other High Holy Day in the Church Year. I have no doubt that it will be glorious and I look forward to seeing you.
As you may recall from my letter to you last week, we have certain protocols in place to ensure we are being as safe as possible during return to normal worship. If you have not read that, please do so now by clicking here. Also, the Common Cup at Communion has now returned for the administration of the Blessed Sacrament. Before you come to communion, please read what I have written below.
Bells, Bells, Bells…They are on the way!
Last Friday, I posted on our Facebook page that the final bell of our three bell carillon was being tuned. What I did not know then, but found out Wednesday morning, is that the installation of our bells will begin on June 29—time certain! Hallelujah! After two long years of anticipation, a fully working bell tower is finally coming to fruition. You can see the two smaller completed bells in the picture above, as well as the largest bell on the tuning lathe.
Vacation Bible School Alternative
On Wednesday, June 24, All Saints will host an outdoor alternative to our traditional, week-long VBS for our church family and community. We really need volunteers to make this happen and we need your response in the next few days. Please prayerfully consider helping out that night. We are in need of the 10 x 10 open-air tents. If you can volunteer or have a tent to loan, please call Dss. Cynthia at the church office or email her here.
Congratulations Andrew Blankinship!
As most of you know, Andrew is graduating from high school this year. There will be a party to celebrate the event on Sunday, June 7, immediately following the 11:00 a.m. Holy Communion out on St. Timothy’s Porch. If you so desire, cards for Andrew may be sent directly to him or brought to the church between now and June 7. You all are invited to stick around on the 7th for a simple affair of hamburgers and hot dogs and offer your congratulations to Andrew then.
For the foreseeable future, we will continue to live-stream on Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. and also Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m. We know there are several of our more vulnerable members who need to remain home as society begins the re-opening process and we hope this helps keep them connected to the parish.
That is about it for this week. Please remember to read what I have written below so there are no surprises when you come to receive Communion this weekend.
Keep on praying for one another and always be mindful of the needs of those less fortunate than we are.
On Receiving Holy Communion
The receiving of the consecrated wine, the precious Blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by the Common Cup at Holy Communion is the proper sacramental act whenever we gather together, for in this way we truly “Do this in remembrance of me.” One of the profound outcomes of the Reformation was the restoration of the Cup to the laity. In fact, before the Reformation, people were actually executed for attempting to restore the Cup to the people. Our Anglican Way of Christianity enshrined this restoration of the Cup in the very first Book of Common Prayer in this way:
- “Then shall the minister take so much Bread and Wine…putting the wine into the Chalice. Then shall the Priest first receive the Communion in both kinds himself, and next deliver it to the other Ministers….and after to the people…giving everyone to drink.”
There can be no doubt we are a germaphobic society and we see real panic all around us regarding the possibilities of contracting COVID-19. And undoubtedly receiving Communion via the Chalice is a concern to some. But we should look at what science tells about this practice. The following was published in 1988; “No episode of disease attributable to the shared communion cup has ever been reported.” (“The hazard of infection from the shared communion cup,” Journal of Infection, Vol. 16, pgs. 3-23) Ten years later, in 1998, the following guidance from the CDC was published: “no documented transmission of any infectious disease has ever been traced to the use of a common communion cup” and “the risk for infectious disease transmission by a common communion cup is very low, and appropriate safeguards–that is, wiping the interior and exterior rim between communicants, use of care to rotate the cloth during use, and use of a clean cloth for each service – would further diminish this risk.” (“Risk of Infectious Disease Transmission from a Common Communion Cup,” American Journal of Infection Control, Vol. 26, No. 5)
Note the wording “appropriate safeguards” in the previous sentence. We do just what they recommend…and always have! The chalice bearers are trained to always wipe both the inside and outside of the chalice after each person receives. The altar guild always provides a fresh, clean, purificator cloth at each celebration of the Holy Communion. Also, the clergy, chalice bearers, and servers wash their hands before serving and handling any sacred vessels.
What then does the Church teach about disease transmission using the Common Cup? The Church has ALWAYS taught that it is impossible for disease to be so transmitted because the Sacrament is our Lord Himself! For the believer, it is unthinkable that our Lord would say, “Do this in remembrance of me” and then allow some worldly sickness invade a member of the Body of Christ.
So How Do We Receive Communion in Church?
Our “default” position is that we receive from the Common Cup. We understand that Jesus’ Body and Blood cannot transmit disease. The proper wiping of the Cup, following the CDC advice, is a given. The wine we use is 18% alcohol, which effectively kills germs and gets wiped around the rim of the chalice with the cloth. And our chalices are made of the precious metals gold and silver, which are natural antiseptics.
One priest recently wrote this about receiving the Common Cup, “Christians have been doing so for centuries, and still manage to die at the same rate and pace as the general population!”
Here is one other piece of evidence I would like for you to consider. The parish priest always consumes the remaining sacrament in the chalice AFTER everyone has communicated and there has never been a reported case of a priest contracting a disease from doing so. I have thought about my personal experiences over 25 years in the ministry. I have finished the Cup after approximately 250,000 people. Many of these people have had colds, the flu, HIV (these are the ones I know about) and undoubtedly many had various other communicable diseases. I have NEVER been infected.
The other way to receive Holy Communion during this time, if you cannot settle your conscience about the Cup, is to receive only the host. The Church teaches that the fullness of the Sacrament abides in either the consecrated bread or the consecrated wine, the Body or the Blood, so if you do this, you will still be fully participating in the Messianic banquet of the Holy Communion. If you decide to do this, please bow your head and cross your arms across your chest after you receive the Body. This will signal the chalice bearer to pass you by.
We will not allow the old practice of intinction (when the chalice bearer picks up the host from your hand, dips it in the chalice, and places it on your tongue). When this is done, the chalice bearer’s fingers touch every hand and whatever everyone has touched gets transferred to his hands and, hence, to you. This makes it impossible to keep the distribution of Communion as sanitary as possible. If you forget and leave the host on your hand, the chalice bearer will not stop in front of you.
One final note about receiving the chalice. Please do not grab the upper cup of the chalice when guiding the chalice to your lips. Merely grab the bottom lip of the chalice and tilt it toward you, guiding it to your lips. This ensures that you do not touch the chalice bearer’s hands.
You have two primary informational allies regarding receiving Communion in both kinds: faith (which means, of course, Jesus Christ) and modern science.
We will receive Communion by the Body of Christ being placed in the hand and then the Blood of Christ being delivered in the Chalice. The alternative is to receive the Body of Christ only.
Following these methods of receiving Holy Communion not only ensures that we are doing everything we can to care for one another but also, along with the other protocols we have in place, help ease some of the fear and anxiety still felt by some.
See you in church!