On Palm Sunday, I invited our community to join me in a Feast of Thanksgiving. Due to COVID-19, we are not able to gather together physically at Crissey Farm, our place of worship. But since March 22, when the stay at home order was issued, we have been gathering as a worshipping community through Zoom. Zoom has allowed us to see each other; worship, pray, and sing with each other; and even have a virtual time of fellowship following worship.
We are facing an unprecedented time in our lives. Concerned about our own health and the health of others and mourning the deaths of those lost to and in this virus, we need each other more than ever. While we must be separated physically for the common good. This does not mean that we cannot be present with each other.
I believe that as people of the incarnate God, we long for presence. We long to be physically near. We long to share peace with each other in a physical way. We long to gather together around tables to share meals. I believe one of the things we miss the most, is the opportunity to gather at God’s table to share bread and wine and remember God in our midst and see each other as God’s beloved children.
With the Bishop’s advice and consent, I am offering our church community an Agape Service that will allow each of us to participate in the feast of thanksgiving where we will share bread and wine or juice from our own homes. This is something new. But these times, I believe ask us to be generous and open to all that God offers to us as community. Because it is a very new thing, I understand if you decide that this does not fit your liturgical theology—the way you wish to worship God. I welcome questions and concerns. But I believe that with clear guidance, this will be a special time for us. While we hunger for physical community as we shelter in place, we will be gathered as one community in celebrating the presence of Christ in and through us, right where God always is—with us everywhere.
To prepare for the Agape Service, I ask you to make a special place for the communion elements. Just as our altar guild shows us, making a place beautiful creates a special reverence and joy for our celebration. To do this, please prepare a place that is set apart and includes a tablecloth, a napkin to cover the cup of wine or juice, and a plate to hold the bread. Plan to have this ready before worship begins so you will be able to participate fully. I will offer the prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, Rite II. The service may be slightly adapted for our particular setting. But it will be something with which you are familiar. I look forward to sharing the gifts of God for the people of God.
This Agape Service will be offered on the last Sunday of each month. I pray that this will be a time where God’s presence in our lives, in our homes, and in our community, will be experienced in a way that while being new, brings us all close as together we recognize God’s presence within and among us in the breaking of the bread.