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Showing posts from March, 2020

Communion and Corona: Some Pentecostal Thoughts on the Current Debates

Over the last week or so, the internet has been awash with arguments for and against Communion while the church cannot gather in this time of pandemic. Many Evangelicals have answered with a resounding ‘No’, while others, from a variety of traditions, have offered a variety of different ways of saying ‘Yes.’ As I’m probably the only Pentecostal in the world who prepared for lockdown by bringing home a hundred books on the Lord’s Supper (yes, I’ve counted and that is the actual number), and as lots of people have been asking me questions, I thought it might be time to do some writing.

The Debate I think that what nearly everyone could agree on is that we cannot receive the Supper in all its fullness. Whether we say yes or no, there will be something missing. While many Evangelicals (particularly from Reformed and Baptist traditions: e.g. Scott Swain or Bobbie Jamieson) have argued against any form of the Supper, others (e.g. Andrew Wilson) have put forward the case that, while the c…

What is Spiritual Communion?

Spiritual Communion is a way Christians throughout the centuries have drawn near to Christ in worship when it hasn’t been possible to meet with Him at His Table in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The traditional definition is, ‘an ardent desire to receive Jesus at His Table and a loving embrace as though we had already received Him.’ It’s not a particular thing that you do, or a special form of words that you say, but rather it’s a sincere longing for communion in the body and blood of Christ when it isn't possible to receive the sacrament physically. This is a spiritual eating by faith. Normally, this sort of spiritual eating should accompany our sacramental eating when we come to the Breaking of Bread. But, when we can’t gather for the Supper, this spiritual eating (although unfortunately and very sadly separated from the sacramental eating) is something that’s still possible for us, by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, as we long for the day we will be able to …

Breaking of Bread and Spiritual Communion for Today's Feast of the Incarnation

With the churches closed, and this kingdom (as well as many other parts of the world) in lockdown, we can't gather for the sacrament of the Breaking of Bread. And yet, today is one of the great feasts of the incarnation; it's the feast of the annunciation, when the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would give birth to Jesus. In other words, today we celebrate the day the incarnation began. We celebrate the fact that 'for us and for our salvation, He came down from heaven' and 'by the power of the Holy Spirit, He became incarnate from the virgin Mary.' And to celebrate that calls for the Breaking of Bread.

For the past few weeks I've been trying to work out what to do about the sacrament. The theologian in me wants careful, well-thought-out, answers. But today's feast has challenged me to go ahead with a tentative answer for this unusual time. So, what I propose is to celebrate the sacrament tonight at 8:30pm UK time (we'll try it on Facebook live) a…

To Help You Pray in the Pandemic

It's St Patrick's Day 2020, and today the churches of the United Kingdom closed for public worship. The last time the whole of any one of these kingdoms went without public worship was when the churches in England were closed on 23rd March 1208, almost exactly 812 years ago, in the reign of King John. So from the days of Robin Hood until today, nothing quite like this has happened to Christian worship in these islands.

And yet, worship and prayer continues, whether or not public worship services continue. So tonight I'm just really writing to point you to something to help you pray in these unusual days.

To encourage us to pray for all the different needs this pandemic presents, the Litany During a Pandemic is really helpful. I've prayed it with my tutorial students in college, used it at our last college Communion, and talked through it with students to think about what we need to be praying for and how to pray for it, as well as what we should be doing (or not doing…