Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 22 January 2022

Trevor Cooper Law & Religion UK Contested heritage – A review of the Church of England guidance

Richard Burridge Church Times Is a Zoom rite a valid form of communion?
“The pandemic has led to eucharistic experiments online. But where is the Bishops’ guidance”

Jeremy Morris Ad fontes Whither Church reform? 1: Problems of the de-centralization agenda

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church The Winchester College Review about John Smyth
There is a link to the Review here.

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Kate
Kate
4 months ago

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
 
There’s a longer passage in Romans but that neatly encapsulates the response to Richard Burridge: it’s up to each individual to decide.

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

You quoting Colossians 2:16. However, I do not agree with you. We are “one body”, not a flock of individuals. We should seek the consensus of the community which makes Eucharist together.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

Thank you, Kate. To my way of thinking, if God or the Holy Spirit can transform the elements into Christ’s body and blood, whether by transubstantiation, consubstantiation, “Real Presence”, or other doctrine, the building itself is immaterial. God is doing the action and God is not defined by buildings. If that’s heresy, so be it. I tend to see Communion or the Eucharist in the manner Canon Professor Burridge describes as “Evangelical”, although I am far from being that: To me the important words of the Mass or Eucharist are Jesus of Nazareth’s to “Do this in remembrance of me”,… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
4 months ago

I think there are two points to pick up here. It’s not about distance but about gathering would be my first point. God is not defined by anything, but I think such a statement slightly missed the point – the church (following the lead of the Biblical narratives) clearly expects there to be a ‘gathering’ (as there was in the Upper Room). That, usually speaking, has been seen as implicit in the liturgy that has emerged from the biblical tradition. Secondly, the role of the presider/president, amongst other things, is to designate what have been received as the gifts, and… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
4 months ago

It is so tempting to explain why I disagree but I will simply quote Romans 14:22 “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” If a Eucharist over YouTube works for someone and gives them comfort, who are we to take that comfort away from them? It’s not our business: it is between them and God and His Apostle has said that God is very open-minded about things.

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

I’m not sure that anything I said could be construed as suggesting that there is any harm in something which ‘works for someone’ or ‘gives them comfort’. While I would always exhort someone who is able to do so to be part of the (in-person) gathering, I have no problem with them deriving comfort from this. And that element is, indeed, not our business. But it most certainly is the church’s business to try and work out what the Eucharist is and what it is not. The point of my remark, and I think this thread, is not about personal… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
4 months ago

I would add the eschatological element of the Eucharist – including the gathering – to Dominic Barrington’s well argued contribution. The one bread signifies the gathering of the Church into the kingdom: Didache 9:4 “As this broken bread was once scattered on the mountains, and after it had been brought together became one, so may your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom.”

To be sure, individual hosts don’t help the symbolism, but taking (not receiving!) a piece of bread in front of a laptop strains it well beyond breaking point.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Allan Sheath
4 months ago

I think we need to make a more nuanced judgement rather than a than a simple binary choice, of in the building yes, on the internet no. For a start there is the choice of separated in time, or geographically. Personally I have no problem with sharing on-line in a Eucharist which is being broadcast live as the participant observes. Participating in a recorded liturgy is, to me, more of a problem. Secondly is the communication one way or two way. In our benefice we run Eucharist as a zoom meeting with both priest and congregation on camera, so the… Read more »

Allan Sheath
Allan Sheath
Reply to  Simon Dawson
4 months ago

As the Church wrestles in these strange times with what the Eucharist is and what it is not, here is another consideration to put into the mix. As a first-year curate I once deaconed at the Eucharist for a visiting bishop who surprised me by thrusting the paten into my hands so that he could receive rather than take. It is a practice that I have tried where possible to follow ever since, as I believe it says something profound about the nature of the Eucharist. Years later I was relieved to find some intellectual grounding for what some of… Read more »

Michael H
Michael H
Reply to  Allan Sheath
4 months ago

‘The sense of this was so strong that in an earlier age none of the clergy, not even the pope, served themselves: rather, they all received from the hand of another….As such it was administered to each communicant by the hand of another as from Christ…Zoom, it seems to me, feeds into our individualism. Maybe inviting the neighbours around is the answer.’ In a nutshell an excellent summary of why I became a vocal opponent of Facebook communion live streamed from a vicarage living room, only the celebrant receiving and deliberately not sharing. Covid law/guidance meant the neighbours couldn’t be… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Allan Sheath
4 months ago

Yes, I think this is spot on. Communion, as I have come to understand, is at least as much about communion with each other as it is about communion with God; the two go hand in hand. One of my issues with daily celebration is that almost by definition nearly all fellow-communicants will not be present (but please do note that this last statement is a massive over-simplification of a rather more subtle point). Most of not all the prayers and invitations in the eucharistic liturgy are in the plural — we do this, we do that, we believe this,… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Allan Sheath
4 months ago

Thank you Allan. You are right that there are so many variables, each with their own logic. And each of us accord priority to different variables. For me personally it is that sense of communion with one another that is an important element. I have seen much more community spirit and sharing in a well conducted Zoom Eucharist than in many 8AM Sunday BCP masses carried out in a church. I very much like the custom at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London, where the community are “fed” first, and then the team who have passed out the elements (normally two… Read more »

Michael H
Michael H
Reply to  Simon Dawson
4 months ago

the sight of a priest communicating him/herself before serving the others projects (to me) an almost selfish message.’ I agree but know of a church where this is taken to a bizarre extreme: each communicant receives an intincted wafer but has to wait until the celebrant has gone back to the altar, once he has received, everyone else is permitted to consume their intincted wafer. He justifies this by saying that it saves him from taking off and replacing his facemask before distribution. And that he must receive first so everyone has to wait!

dr.primrose
dr.primrose
Reply to  Simon Dawson
4 months ago

Communicating the congregation first, followed by communicating the clergy and lay servers, is common in American Lutheran services I have attended. (The Episcopal Church in the U.S. is in full communion with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.)
.
But TEC practice is for the congregation to be communicated first. The TEC Prayer Book in fact has a rubric that requires this: “The ministers receive the Sacrament in both kinds, and then immediately deliver it to the people.” (P. 365)
.
Does the Church of England or other Anglican Churches have a similar rubric?

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  dr.primrose
4 months ago

The Common Worship service has the rubric: “The president and people receive communion.” This was designed to be deliberately vague and not exclude either practice. In this respect CW follows the earlier ASB 1980, and the Series 3 rubric from 1973 that had “The president and other communicants receive the holy communion.”

(And I assume you meant to say that in TEC the conrgegation receive last although you have written first.)

dr.primrose
dr.primrose
Reply to  dr.primrose
4 months ago

Thanks for noting my error. You’re correct — I meant to say that the congregation receives communion after the ministers.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  dr.primrose
4 months ago

From the Book of Common Prayer: Then shall the Minister first receive the Communion in both kinds himself, and then proceed to deliver the same to the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, in like manner, (if any be present,) and after that to the people also in order, into their hands, all meekly kneeling.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Fr Dexter Bracey
4 months ago

Yes, although Order Two in Common Worship — which is the BCP service “as commonly used” — has the same rubric as Order One: “The priest and people receive communion” (CW main volume, page 242), so even in a BCP-style service the priest need not self-communicate first.

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
4 months ago

For me, the gathering, the community, is key: the Amen of the people at the end of the prayer of consecration is an essential element. Many parish websites (or YouTube) have a library of masses for the last month or even the last year or more. So if you don’t like Fr X’s sermons, or if you don’t like green vestments, you have the option of scrolling back a few weeks or months and finding a liturgy that suits you. I imagine someone at home with a piece of bread and a glass of wine watching an archived video: consecration… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Richard
4 months ago

“the ideal would be to arrange for a priest or lay member of the parish to stop by with communion later that day.”

That’s common practice among US Episcopalians. Trained lay people, called Lay Eucharistic Ministers (LEMs) take the consecrated hosts to those in the parish known to be shut-in and desiring of receiving Communion every Sunday.

In addition, during Covid, our rector has made herself available at the main door of the church, after service, to anyone who wishes to come by and receive, but who is hesitant to be inside with others for a long period.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
4 months ago

Is it churlish of me to point out that Jeremy Morris has little experience of parish life and in particular the difficulties faced by parish clergy in relating to the centre. I loved being a parish priest but the silly gimmicks, particularly of late emanating from the diocese and the national church eventually wore me down. What was especially irksome for myself and my colleagues was being told what we ought to be doing by people who had never done the job themselves.

Jeremy Morris
Jeremy Morris
Reply to  Fr Dean
4 months ago

With respect, you don’t know anything about my background or about what experience of parish ministry (aside from being an incumbent) I might or might not have had. Better to concentrate on the arguments.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  Jeremy Morris
4 months ago

Jeremy, you have clearly had an illustrious career in academia but I think that I’m right in saying that you have not been an incumbent. Your argument would have been enhanced for me if you’d indicated the scope of your parish experience and your research methodology.

Jeremy Morris
Jeremy Morris
Reply to  Fr Dean
4 months ago

It’s an opinion piece. Deal with the arguments!

A not so humble parishioner
A not so humble parishioner
4 months ago

On the subject of guidance on the Eucharist during the pandemic, up to now I feel that churches have had to cope with incredibly challenging circumstances as they feel is best for their congregations and I’m not particularly interested in telling churches what they have done was not proper or whatever (that said, my church did not do remote DIY sacraments). However, now we are much more able to gather together physically we do need clear guidance on what forms of communion are recommended going forwards given that getting lots of people to come together in one place and share… Read more »

Jeremy Morris
Jeremy Morris
Reply to  A not so humble parishioner
4 months ago

I have a great deal of sympathy with this. Diocesan resourcing is paper-thin in comparison with other organizations, and with many Protestant churches on the continent of Europe, but of course in comparison with some parishes it looks the other way round. I suppose I was simply trying to highlight that, in a context of decline, there are no easy answers – and certainly trying to force radical change on parishes in the manner you describe is likely to be inept and self-defeating.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Jeremy Morris
4 months ago

It’s hard to claim that diocesan resourcing is “paper thin” when many dioceses have significant numbers of staff employed centrally as part of SDF projects. I have lost count of how many directors of this and advisors for that now work within my diocese, and I am completely unaware of any benefit to parishes of their existence.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
4 months ago

A “Purple Feaver” anecdote. Fr Dean. When +Douglas Feaver instituted the former Principal of Pusey House and Principal of Chichester Theo Coll, Canon Cheslyn Jones ( who had little parochial experience) to a rural living in Northants he announced to the congregation ” Having spent years training men to be parish priests Canon Jones has come here to see if he can do it himself”

Charles Read
Reply to  Perry Butler
4 months ago

Colin Buchanan said much the same of himself when he became an incumbent (at St Mark Gillingham) after being a bishop and college principal etc.. He told me he sometimes contacted some of his former students for advice !

John Wallace
John Wallace
Reply to  Perry Butler
4 months ago

Thank you, Perry and a response to Fr Jeremy as well. As someone who, as a lay minister enjoyed (endured?) the episcopate of + Douglas, I appreciate and understand your comments. What worries me more generally is what seems to becoming the divide between academics and those who work in parishes, almost a proud anti-intellectualism. I agree with Fr Dean about intiatives but surely the role of an academic (I suppose that now I have a doctorate, I am included in this group), is to study, research, think and then pass that understanding on to others so that they may… Read more »

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
Reply to  John Wallace
4 months ago

Congratulations Dr John! I’m by no stretch an academic but nor am I anti-intellectual either. Being a parish priest is an honourable profession. Psychiatrists and surgeons have both studied medicine and qualified as a doctor of medicine but a professor of psychiatry would not opine on the issues faced by general surgeons without heavily qualifying their authority to comment. Why should I defer to someone whose ministry has been almost exclusively as an Oxbridge don?

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Perry Butler
4 months ago

I attended a ‘First Incumbents’ Course’ which was run by someone who had never been an incumbent. When I pointed out to him that he had no experience of what he was supposed to be teaching us he replied that while that was true he had a lot of experience of running courses.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Toby Forward
4 months ago

A friend was recently turned down for a new parish because he couldn’t illustrate to the interviewing bishop any significant growth of disciples in his present parish. Since the said bishop came to this diocese, attendances at Church have declined. I think she should resign forthwith – if only on the grounds of glaring hypocrisy.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

I hate the preoccupation with numbers.

John Davies
John Davies
4 months ago

I’m speaking as a simple, very ordinary lay member of the congregation here. To me one of the worst aspects of the enforced lock downs was, effectively our being banned from communion (by an openly professing atheist no less) – possibly the most central sacrament of our faith, and the distinguishing rite which sets us apart from all other religions. Maybe I’m an oddity (wouldn’t surprise me), but I’m a very low church man who also believes there is a sacramental aspect to communion. I agree with the belief that it is a shared event – shared as a group,… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  John Davies
4 months ago

What surprises me most is that discussion of what is important in the Eucharist so often ignores the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer Jesus taught us, and in particular the phrase “Give us this day our daily bread”. In saying “this is my body broken for you” over bread isn’t Jesus layering meaning onto the Lord’s prayer? In separating the Eucharist as a particular rite, we risk obscuring the original meaning. We risk adding in expectations like ‘a shared event’ and questions about whether Zoom works or shared vs individual cups; expectations which can cloud the central meaning that we beg… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

I will add that the past 18 months have added greatly to my personal understanding of the Eucharist. I wouldn’t have written that a year ago. I suspect many others will have gained additional insights too. Maybe we also shouldn’t hold the closure of churches over the heads of the episcopate either? I suspect that many bishops will have been on personal spiritual journeys too concerning the importance and nature of the Eucharist.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

It’s good to see you supporting celebrations of mass every day.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

Ideally all parish churches would offer daily, in-person mass (at a convenient time) led by an ordained priest. I suspect many here would see that as the gold standard. Equally, we all know it isn’t possible The daily has been sacrificed without proper discussion. I think that was the wrong choice, yes.

Father Ron Smith
4 months ago

As a self-confessed ‘Anglo-Catholic’ priest and former Franciscan brother (SSF); my own understanding of the Eucharist is that it provides an intimate ‘in-person’ relationship to other members of the Body of Christ with the ‘Real Presence’ of Jesus. Someone once calling this the ‘re-membering’ of the Body of Christ. Where circumstances are appropriate (in Church or house group) the presiding priest invokes the Holy Spirit upon the Gifts of bread and wine so that they become – in the words of the New Zealand Prayer Book ‘The Body and Blood of Christ’. This is not a ‘magical’ process, but a… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Father Ron Smith
John Bunyan
John Bunyan
Reply to  Father Ron Smith
3 months ago

I have seen no reference to the clear rubric in the Book of Common Prayer regarding those who “by extremity of sickness” &c cannot receive the Sacrament with the mouth but who nonetheless, with repentance, faith, and thanksgiving, can “eat and drink the Body and Blood of our Saviour”. That is surely very relevant to the discussion. But a few other points follow. (1) I myself prefer not to use that Johannine language, so strongly expressed in the Prayer of Humble Access, which many scholars think does not go back to our Lord himself. I think as an observant, faithful… Read more »

John Bunyan
John Bunyan
Reply to  John Bunyan
3 months ago

Sorry. (1) should read “… as an observant Jew, Jesus would …”. Take more care, JB.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  John Bunyan
3 months ago

Awe – yes indeed. For me the mass is the cosmic drama to be celebrated with as much beauty, joy and awe as possible. Whether the bread and wine remain as such matters not to me. I understand the value and attraction of the noncommunicating High Mass.

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