1. This is the defining activity of the Christian Church and it should be a cause of rejoicing that we can, again, gather to offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, for ourselves, those among whom we live, and for the whole creation.
2. The Church of England is working to update advice on the celebration of the Eucharist. It will then be issued in each diocese by the Bishop.
3. Some have pressed for that advice already. The following advice builds on what has already been circulated, these are the major considerations:
a) All the advice already issued for opening church buildings for individual prayer must remain in place.
b) The attached advice from the Church of England, gives information about:
- recording who attends,
- people over 70, children
- orders of service, etc
- music and singing
- taking a collection, handling cash
- cleansing communion vessels
- reservation of the Sacrament
c) A priest with PTO may celebrate the Eucharist if in good health and with no underlying condition that would constitute a clear risk.
d) Government guidance indicates that congregational participation should be in a quiet voice, in order to minimise risk of infection. This might need some
explanation, and even rehearsal! But it could also contribute very significantly to creating a more prayerful way of worshipping together.
e) The celebrant, similarly, is advised to avoid voice projection: the use of a sound reinforcement system is therefore important. A lapel microphone is safe to use;
others are not because they risk spreading infection.
f) There is no requirement to wear a mask. It has also been observed that people with hearing difficulties often need to read the lips of a speaker.
g) The peace is not exchanged.
h) Communion can only be given in one kind, under the form of bread, though the celebrant does consecrate both bread and wine (a very small quantity) and must
receive from the chalice on behalf of the whole congregation. The celebrant must prepare the chalice and the large wafer bread with sanitised hands before the Eucharist begins.
i) There should be no offertory procession; all vessels needed for the Eucharist must be placed on the altar before the liturgy begins.
j) The wafer breads to be consecrated and administered to the congregation must be carefully prepared, hands sanitised before doing so. They must be placed in a
covered ciborium or with a pall covering an open dish. The ciborium or dish must remain covered during the Eucharistic Prayer, and not uncovered until the
administration of holy communion.
k) If the celebrant is elderly or clinically vulnerable and is not confident about administering holy communion, this should be done by an authorised Eucharistic minister.
l) Before the administration of holy communion, whoever is administering must use a hand gel to sanitise hands.
m) Communicants must receive standing, one at a time in a single file, and respect social distancing as they come forward.
n) The host must be placed in the hand, avoiding physical contact and no words (e.g. “The body of Christ”) are to be spoken.
NB It has been suggested that when the celebrant receives communion, he or she might say aloud, “The body of Christ” (or whatever authorised form is used) and the congregation reply, “Amen”, and then “The blood of Christ” (or whichever form), and again the congregation reply, “Amen”. This provides an opportunity for the whole congregation to make a statement of identification with the communion they are about to make but will do so in silence.
o) The dismissal after the blessing does need to be just that; people should be encouraged not to congregate as they might have done previously.
p) The Eucharist can be celebrated outdoors in a garden, provided all the above advice is followed, including the prohibition on singing.
I hope and pray that the demands made of us now in the conduct of public worship will intensify the care with which we prepare to celebrate the Eucharist and to worship God.
May we grow in delight, in awe and reverence as God’s pilgrim people who, in this vale of tears, are fed at the sacred feast in which we partake of Christ: his sufferings are remembered, our minds are filled with grace and we receive a pledge of the glory that is to be ours. Alleluia. Amen.
Mike & Julie Broad have put a lot of hard work into getting our church cleaned and ready for a Covid-19 safe worship, there will also be a ‘track & trace’ register at each service – please remember to add your name (and a telephone number/email if you haven’t already provided this via the electoral role)