By chance, I ran across this prayer by Tommy Tenney, a Pentecostal preacher and best-selling author. “Lord Jesus, my soul aches at the mere mention of Your name. My heart leaps for every rumor of your coming, and each possibility that You will manifest Your presence. I’m not satisfied with mere spiritual dainties. I’m ravenously hungry for You in Your fullness. I’m desperate to feast on the bread of Your presence and quench my thirst with the wine of Your Spirit.” I am not sure what “spiritual dainties” are, and it is not a phrase you can find in the Book of Common Prayer, but I was struck by the Eucharistic hunger this prayer so effectively expresses. Because of the necessary COVID-19 restrictions surrounding public worship, we have been waiting a long time to receive the Eucharist. Like Esau, in last week’s Old Testament lesson from Genesis, we are “famished.” The spiritual food we have grown accustomed to receiving weekly, the food that “grants us strength and courage to love and serve [God and our neighbor],” has been inaccessible. As time passes, new cases of the coronavirus are on the rise. In some places, the increases are precipitous and a return to normal worship patterns is further delayed. When and how we can return to “normal” is a question for which I do not have an answer, but I think we have come up with a way to provide the Eucharist to those who desire it in a safe way, so that our hunger can be assuaged.
Beginning on Sunday, Aug. 2, we will celebrate the Eucharist at our 10:30 a.m. streaming service. At the conclusion of the Eucharist, all the folks watching online will be invited to pray the Prayer of Spiritual Communion which grants all the benefits of Communion without receiving the sacrament in person.
In addition, Licensed Eucharistic Visitors will be commissioned to go out from the service and take the sacrament to those who desire to receive it physically. Folks are encouraged to gather outdoors, in yards, or other public spaces, (in groups of no more than 10 people), where they can participate in an extension of the Sunday morning liturgy through scripture reading and reflection, prayer, and Communion. During these “house church” gatherings, Communion will be provided in the form of bread only. Gluten free wafers are also available.
The concept is that folks will call the LEV geographically closest to them and arrange to meet for (House Church), scripture reading, prayer and reflection, and Communion. Once a LEV has reached the ten person limit, he/she will refer you to the next closest LEV.
We realize that many people are simply not ready to venture out due to health concerns, and we pray for that time when we can be reunited. For those of us who are venturing out, Communion is now available. Although it is a bit complicated, I think this system will work. As we implement it, we can make any necessary changes. Consider it “a work in progress.” As always, our priority is your health, safety, and spiritual formation. If you fall into the high risk category for contracting the virus, please do not make arrangements to receive Communion physically. Pray for patience and participate in online worship. Those who desire to receive Communion by meeting with a LEV are expected to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
Provided below is a list of St. Paul’s LEV’s along with their phone numbers and zip codes. You are responsible for getting in touch with them if you want to receive Communion. We ask that you choose a LEV geographically close to you. When the LEV has 10 participants signed up, he/she will encourage you to call the next nearest LEV. Thank you for your willingness to be flexible in these challenging times. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to call or text me. Be safe. Be kind. Love one another. Keep the faith!
- Don Brainard (678) 521-1046 – Zip Code 28403
- Herbert Gant (910) 398-4089 – Zip Code 28401
- Kathryn & Royster Hedgepeth (910) 399-5905 – Zip Code 28409
- Matthew Langley (910) 352-4628 – Zip Code 28405
- Richard Laudati (910) 520-3210 – Zip Code 28403
- Joan Rosko Miller (910) 398-0301 – Zip Code 28451
- Cynthia Smallwood (914) 318-7762 – Zip Code 28451
- Susan Sramek (408) 781-9123 – Zip Code 28451
- David Tousignant (484) 883-9594 – Zip Code 28451
- Cheryl Wagoner (910) 386-9019 – Zip Code 28409