It’s been on my mind. In my family, I’m the sole Christian which understands the value of Communion. My son is too young to understand and value the Eucharist, and my husband is Agnostic. And without a church I haven’t had communion for a very long time. In a previous piece, I wrote that the early church wanted an ordained person to administer the Eucharist. But I’ve been reconsidering this as I contemplate the Passover Meal.
Passover was done within the family unit, not as a community. If we go back to the story of the plagues there is a key point that we have to acknowledge in order to figure out the importance of the Passover: From some of the previous plagues, it was made very apparent that God didn’t have to have the Hebrews preform their own ritual to protect them from a plague. That is to say, the flies didn’t get into Goshen, Israel’s cattle was protected from disease, and the Hail didn’t extend to Goshen. There may have been more plagues which didn’t, but only these three are confirmed has having not been a problem in Goshen. Then why did God ask Israel to carry out a Passover ritual?
Most people point out that it was meant to be a foreshadowing of Christ’s story. While I do believe there is truth to that, I don’t think the explanation goes far enough. I think it was about weeding out who was and wasn’t faithful. If you didn’t perform the Passover Ritual you would lose your first born because God wanted faith and obedience; if you did perform it then you showed the world that God kept his Word. It was a 100% win-win strategy on God’s part. And so God told Israel that this would become an official celebration recreating the Passover Meal so as to remember what happened in Egypt. And later on, He would use that same formula to bring salvation for the whole world.
The Passover Seder can be done as a community or as a family, and if they are suppose to be our model then it should also hold true that as long as someone serves in the capacity of Christ’s role at the Last Supper, then the Eucharist this year can also be performed at the household level. Removing the idea that you have to follow along with a televised version of the Eucharist in order to ensure an ordained individual is administering the Eucharist.
Per Paul’s description of Marriage, that husbands are the head of the family, this would mean that the person who should stand in the role of Christ for the ritual would need to be the husband. If we look to the original Passover Seder, the answer for a family which shares in their Christian walk together, the answer to this year’s Easter Eucharist can be found with some ease….
Though…I’m still not sure about someone in my situation. The sole Christian in the household. If, as I believe, the Passover was about stepping out in faith and obedience to God, then it would be wrong to look at the situation as though it’s completely hopeless for someone in a similar situation to me (maybe you live alone or cannot be with family for some reason). In contemplating this, and looking at the way that the Passover has been treated over the years, I wonder if there is a way to modify this ceremony for an individual. It’s something I am still contemplating myself, but if I do it might look like this:
Read the Passion of Christ through the Resurrection (All of Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, or John 11:45-John 20) in front of an alter made of earth (per Exodus 20:24-25) with wine, unleaven bread, a candle and frankincense (to burn), and a small non-flammable bowl with optional woodchips for tender.
Offer a prayer of repentance with the burning of the frankincense (symbolizing the gift Christ was given at his birth, but also to mirror the saints in Revelation 8:4).
Finally, after having repented, take communion with the following form of speech:
Ask God, the Father, to bless the bread.
“Jesus, my Lord and savior, during the Last Supper you broke bread with your disciples (break bread, and lay the portion you’re not going to eat in the wooden bowl) saying ‘This is my body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of Me.’ (don’t eat yet)
Ask God, the Father, to bless the wine.
“After blessing the wine, you spoke again to your disciples saying ‘Drink from it, all of you (pour some of the wine onto unleaven bread on altar, leave enough for a single sip) For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.'” (don’t drink yet)
Lord, in honor of your sacrifice for me and the world, I hope you will allow me to join you at your table, that I may accept your sacrifice (After eating the bread and drinking the wine, light the remnants on fire. For God told the Israelites that what was remaining should be burned up, rather than left behind).
That last part seems kind of silly though, for God also said that the lamb should be eaten completely, and if there is anything that remains it should be burned up. One could easily eat all of the unleavened bread, even if it was the size of a slice of Naan bread, and only pour out enough red wine to accommodate a sip, rather than a cup. The reason I’d choose to have left overs, however, is to symbolize the communial meal that we share with Christ when we partake in Communion.
By reading what Ignatius said historically (that only an ordained minister should administer the Eucharist), I’m still not certain whether or not the above described ceremony would even be viable in God’s eyes. But when I take into consideration that the Israelites had to find a way to contend with the lack of a clergy caste that could accommodate their religious lives several times over throughout the Old Testament, then it seems to me that it is possible God will accept the effort in extraordinary circumstances. COVID19 seems like one such circumstance, and so I’ll need to contemplate this further over the next couple of days and ask for God’s wisdom.