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Interactive Online Liturgy for the Sacrament of Holy Communion

by | Apr 6, 2020 | COVID-19, Innovation, Theology and Technology, Tools for Digital Ministry

Version 1.1

We’ve created an Online Communion Liturgy under the creative commons 3.0 license, meaning it’s free to use and adapt, with attribution.


If you look through some of our traditional communion liturgies and try to imagine them playing out online, you’ll find most of them wanting. The medium calls for a different expression of the same liturgy. So I offer you this liturgy to draw from. As always, practice your technology.

Recommendations

This liturgy works best if people will be able to use chat or talk during the broadcast.

This liturgy is best if done live, but could be followed through with later. If it’s on facebook live, the viewer will actually see the chats of the people that came before at the right times, so it will feel live to them. Others will be somewhat alone during the interactive parts, but may still get something from it.

Instructions

It’s recommended that you notify your congregation ahead of time to let them know to have elements on hand, but to not expect everyone who attends to have it ready. I’ve built time into the liturgy to allow for collecting elements.

Setting

Online video typically calls for a more casual representation of worship. You will want a close-up view of your table/altar. You could do this sitting or standing.

Interaction

Interactive features will help your congregation to form a strong connection online. If done well, this can form a better interpersonal experience than many in-person worship experiences.

Note: it’s hard to both lead communion and manage the online elements though a savvy pastor could manage it. It helps to have a second person online giving instruction and inviting people into participation. They can have readymade answers for the interactive parts queued up.


The Acknowledgement of Togetherness

As we gather here today in the sight of God to join in Holy Communion,

know we are only a screen width apart.

The God of all creation is not beholden to the bounds of time or place.

God transcends our physical distances

and parts the veil between us, so that we may be together in this mystical space.

Through God and the mystery of Holy Communion, we become one creation, one body, one church.

Join with me now in acknowledging our togetherness.

Virtual Passing of the Peace

[Virtual Passing of the Peace: have people say hi, where they are (in their house, maybe), and who they are with (family or pets) in chat, or with a smaller group on video, have them do so in person. Have the leader start off.]

God’s peace be with us all. Amen.

The Gathering of the Elements

Together, we share a table of enormous width along a horizontal plane, as it gently contours along our heavenly body.

The table is laid bare, earnestly seeking the providence of God [show your empty table]

At the wedding feast, Jesus proclaimed “My time has not yet come.”

Yet persuaded by his beloved mother Mary, he turned water into wine.  

I ask you now to collect what elements you may

to serve as your bread and fruit of the vine,

knowing that proveniente grace will justify your choices

in the sight of God.

Virtual Sharing of the Elements

[Virtual sharing of the elements: let people know that when they return with their elements to share what they were able to muster in chat. If it’s on video than can show them. Don’t underestimate the power of people sharing this offering to bring people together. In solidarity the leader will place their elements on the table at this time.]

The table is set. Let us proceed.

Thanksgiving

God is with you. [pause briefly for those who respond at home]

It is good to be joyful as we give thanks to You, Holy God.

You created us in your image and gave us life with your breath.

Your love does not falter, even as we neglect that love.

You liberated us from our bondage, and continue to ease our burden.

Acclamation

With joy, and with all of Creation, we proclaim:

Repeat after me…

Holy, Holy, Holy [read slowly, then pause while repeating silently in your head for timing]

God of Power and Grace [same]

Heaven and Earth are full of your glory [same]

Hosanna in the highest [same]

Hosanna in the highest [same]

Institution

You are Holy God, and blessed is your Child Jesus

Your Spirit descended upon him so that he could

proclaim good news to the poor

heal the sick

feed the hungry

cavort with sinners

and liberate the captive

His life gave birth to the church through a new covenant

one born out the Holy Spirit

whose power dwells within us today.

On the night in which he gave himself over, Jesus took bread [raise bread], gave thanks to you, God, and said, “take, eat, this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

After dinner, he took the cup [raise cup], gave thanks, and said, “This is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many. Drink from it in remembrance of me.”

Anamnesis

In remembering the mighty acts of Jesus, we offer ourselves as a living witness

proclaiming the mystery of faith:

Repeat after me…

Christ has died [read slowly, then pause while repeating silently in your head for timing]

Christ has risen [same]

Christ will come again [same]

Epiclesis

[hands out towards camera]

Pour out your Spirit on all those gathered together in this Holy space,

and on the gift of these elements

[hands over your elements]

Make them be for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ,

that we may be the body of Christ for the world

Intercessions

Your Spirit makes us one with Christ and one with each other

It binds, blends, and multiplies us, as we minister to the world, as one beloved community of faith

singing your praises on Earth and in Heaven

until Christ comes again,

and we feast at the divine table

in perfect harmony

Virtual Intercession

[Virtual Intercession: not everyone who needs grace can be with us here, today. Name those you’d like to extend the grace of this table to, in chat, or voice them to yourself (speak them if on video).]

All honor and glory are yours God, now and forever.  Amen.

Lord’s Prayer (Optional)

[If you can have the words on your screen it will make this easier as the leader can read through once knowing everyone can follow along. If you don’t have the words on screen, I recommend that the leader ask the congregation to repeat after them, then read a line out loud and then read it silently in their head to get the timing right before they go onto the next line. As usual, don’t assume everyone knows it from memory.]

Partaking of the Elements

[hold the bread in front of the camera then break it]

This bread is made from many grains from many fields, yet was formed into a single loaf.

Because there is one God

we, though many, and in many places, are one body

Join us as we partake in the body of Christ, in remembrance of him.

[tear off a piece of bread and hold it up]

The Body of Christ given for you

[eat it]

[hold the cup in front of the camera]

This fruit of the vine is made by many hands, from many places, yet pours freely.

Join us as we share in this blessing of the cup of the new covenant.

The cup of blessing poured out for you and for all

[drink]  

Doxology

Eternal God, thank you for this mystery of faith, where you have given yourself to us.

May we go into the world strengthened by your Spirit, in a spirit of generosity, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Copyright 2020 by Wil Ranney under the CC3.0 license. 

By Wil Ranney
Rev. Wil Ranney is the CEO of Aboundant and an ordained Deacon in the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church.

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