“Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” – Jesus (John 2:16)
“and every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the Lord of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and use them to boil the flesh of the sacrifice. And there shall no longer be traders in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day.” (Zechariah 14:21)
In the second chapter of her book, “Entering The Passion of Jesus: A beginners Guide to Holy Week” Amy-Jill Levine talks about the temple cleansing incident. “In John’s version of the Temple incindent, Jesus anticipates the time when there will no longer be a need for vendors, for every house not only in Jerusalem but in all of Judea shall be like the Temple itself. …. Jesus’ words, citing Zechariah, do even more. They anticipate a time when all peoples, all nations, can worship in peace, and in love. There is no separation between home and house of worship, because the entire land lives in a sanctified state.” (59).
The PCUSA provided resources for coronavirus/COVID-19 for congregations and clergy. Especially helpful for our “first zoom communion” was the Communion in Emergency/Pandemic resource. Basically, these documents helped session decide what we were going to do about our scheduled communion for Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday. The session of Third Church approved (via email) to allow communion to be done over zoom, with the reminder that vulnerable people should not go to the grocery store to pick up communion elements, but that whatever food and beverage they already had at home would be an appropriate option. I am grateful to serve a church who understands that God put brains in our heads for us to use them, and that keeping everyone safe is more of a priority than having Welch’s brand grape juice. Although, my husband made sure to put Welch’s on our grocery list as soon as we realized “home communion” might be a possibility.
Honestly, I was more worried about logistics than theology. What angle should my computer screen be so that everyone can see me break bread? Since the dinning room table was also my office, and the communion table, and a place for my husband’s lap top so he could take attendance and monitor zoom while I focused on worship, where is all of this “stuff” going to go and still have a reasonable pleasant background for the viewing congregation? We need to put Penelope outside for church so she doesn’t beg at the table to whole time or be bothered by all of the extra voices in our house. (We did, and she loved the sunshine and playing outside, she didn’t even realize she missed church, we had lunch outside with her afterwords). It was a lot to coordinate. After church we had lunch and a nap. Then on Monday we moved my office upstairs where we had planned on it being a long time ago but that room had become the catch all so there was lots of cleaning … whew… it was worth it.
Now that it’s over, I’m wondering about the significance. What does it mean that every cooking pot (or in our case tablewear) is sacred? What does it mean that there are now “sacred vessels” that held communion elements in everyone’s home? Will these objects simple go back to their normal every day use? I hope so, but I also hope there will be a memory of sacredness. Does that mean our ordinary meals will be lifted to sacred meaning? Will prayer, worship, and communion become part of everyday life? Is this the anticipated time when all peoples, all nations, can worship in peace, and in love? When there is no separation between home and house of worship, because the entire world lives in a sanctified state? I hope so.
I would love to hear about your zoom or live stream communion experiences. You can leave them below in the comments or email me.