Is it Communion if There is a Screen Between Us?

A Personal Reflecton by Manoj Kumar Gunthoti on the Question Posed by Pastor Goede

Yes, it can be communion if there is a screen between us. I and my family would like to participate in communion sharing bread and wine after the words of the institution!

I would like to share my thoughts parallel with the biblical incident of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and the Holy Communion. As a Christian, I believe that I am an individual living by the faith of God even though my belief is wrong because the grace of God embraces me all the time and especially, I realize when my faith is put to test.

We live more than 2000 years after these incidences took place and we continue to follow and resemble these acts in our day to day life even to this present day. At present we do not have the actual persons or the actual elements to perform these acts of faith. The act remains more or less the same, but the people and elements continue to change as the years pass by.

I believe that the very act of remembering the Holy Communion of Christ brings us in communion with Christ and his Grace. As a Lutheran Pastor in India, there were times when I had to institute Holy Communion to the sick who will soon rest in peace, to the believers of Christ who did not profess their faith in public due to various situations and to my congregants who profess their faith in Christ. Pastor Nancy, your question made me think, what if I was never been able to make it to institute Holy Communion to any of these individuals. God doesn’t save us because we participate in Holy Communion or not because of our faith. God saved us because we are children of God (period). All our acts of faith that we do in our daily life and our religious life encourages us to realize what God has done to us and how we can illuminate the love of God to ourselves and to our neighbor trying to fulfill the purpose of our life in our family, community and World at large.

Having said that, what if we don’t have the elements of Communion, bread, and wine? On April 5th we celebrated our elder son Andry’s birthday. Yes, we are in shelter-at-home and if we don’t get to buy a cake or bake a cake, what are our options to celebrate Andry’s birthday with what we have. I and Smitha decided that we can feed a spoon of rice to Andry and each other after we sing a Birthday song for Andry. The unavailability of the cake did not stop us from celebrating the joy of the birthday.

The unavailability of the physical presence of a Pastor, the unavailability of a Church building, the unavailability of regular elements we use in Holy Communion should not stop us from the communion of participating in the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

As a Pastor, I dedicated my life to serve God and my neighbor. The challenges of my physical presence with my congregation will never stop me from praying for my congregation, or to think about my congregation and to be in conversation with whoever available with all available means. At the same time as a congregant, the challenges that hinder my physical presence in my Church and fellowship will not stop me to be a member of the Church of Christ and will not stop me from being a child of God. I continue to believe that I am in the thoughts and prayers of my Pastor and my fellow congregation and will try to communicate with all available resources. As Church, we should continue to support each other (Pastor and Congregation) in all the possible ways to survive and overcome the crisis.

We should always look for all the possible ways to have our fellowship with God, ourselves and with our neighbors amid all challenges and pandemics. We never know what our post-pandemic life looks like. Let us continue to have faith in the grace of God that reaches out to us in all the possible ways we never thought of.

This short reflection may be acceptable to you in full or in partial and even completely opposing to your understanding. It is because of our diverse and colorful experiences, cultures, contexts and faith journey. I appreciate and respect your disagreements. I have full faith in you and the grace of God will find its way to reach us because we are children of God.

I miss you all, our Pastor Nancy, the Church, the alter where I stand beside you all for communion, the coffee hour, your physical presence, your hugs, your handshakes, your greetings, and your well-wishes. Please continue to remember us in your prayers. I hope and pray that we will overcome this pandemic and will meet each other in person to pray, to greet and to share our well beings. Thank you so much for your time and once again we miss you all!

Grace and Peace,