This past weekend (early August, for those who are counting) a few families gathered in the evening in the front yard of one of their homes for a simple service including reflection on the Gospel, prayers for each other and the world, and Holy Communion.
It was the first in-person gathering for worship of any kind among our Holy Spirit community since March 12th when we paused our in-person worship due to the pandemic.
While some things felt a little different, we felt delight in being together under the sky, and communing with Jesus through the Word of God and sharing a simple and familiar holy meal.
Here are some of the ways we’ve learned to be together to make this sort of gathering safe given the covid19 pandemic conditions, with hopes that this helps other families prepare to gather as church dispersed across our city:
- People should bring their own lawn chairs if they have them (let the host and clergy know if you don’t)
- Households sit together, spaced 6-8 feet from other households
- We wear masks the entire time
- The Scripture(s), prayers, and communion service are provided on a web page that we can follow on our phones
- Several bottles of hand sanitizer are around for easy (and frequent) use
- Ideally no one enters the house to use the bathroom, but if they do should wipe down all door knobs and surfaces with wipes
- The host is invited to bake small individual rolls, pitas or tortillas (15 or the number of people expected) or they can buy some and have them in a plastic bag.
- We commune with bread only, but a bit of wine can be consecrated as well for spiritual communion.
- The clergy presider will sanitize their hands visibly before beginning the prayer and after anytime materials are touched
- When it is time for communion, one person at a time sanitizes their hands and approaches the clergy to receive the Body of Christ and then return to their seat, waiting to eat until all have received and are at their seats.
- All will lower or remove their masks to partake of Communion at their seats together, then replace their masks and sanitize their hands again before continuing with the final part of the service.
We praise God for gathering us in fellowship with Christ and one another during this pandemic. God is good, and God does not abandon God’s holy people.
Whether God gathers us through Zoom, or in each other’s yards, or inside our homes or sanctuary of the church building when it is safer to gather indoors, we trust in God. And we celebrate above all the healing, merciful, liberating power of Jesus Christ to unite us to God and each other and to keep us strengthened for mission where we have been planted.