As many churches prepare for the Celebration of World Communion Sunday on October 4, congregants are expressing fear about the sacrament and the rapid spread of the H1N1 Virus. Just how safe is it to observe the Sacrament of Holy Communion? It is one of the great gifts of faith to receive the sacrament, and there is no need to avoid the Table.
Precautions may be taken to lessen danger of exposure to the H1N1 Virus or any other disease that is spread by human contact.
- The most significant precaution may be in the Passing of the Peace. Invite worshipers to greet one another without physical contact, using instead a raised hand or a gentle bow to acknowledge the other.
- Place hand sanitizer at the entry of the worship space or small containers in every pew.
- The Celebrant and servers sanitize their hands prior to serving the bread and cup.
- Servers break the bread and place it in the hands of the worshiper, rather than allowing the worshiper to tear off the bread in turn.
- The cup server may tilt the cup so that it is not likely any will dip their fingers into the cup and make contact with the juice.
For further reading and understanding of the best practices for worship in this time, please go to the website of the General Board of Discipleship, and read, “H1N1 Virus/Swine Flu, What’s the Deal, What to Do and What Not to Do” by Taylor Burton-Edwards. The entire article may be reprinted for your congregation’s newsletter or bulletin.
Please do not allow fear to discourage full participatory worship! God is graciously offering us the Bread of Life and the Cup of Forgivenesss! People of faith all over the world will be united around the Table this Sunday, and there are many in the world that desperately need to feel our love and support on this day. The suffering from natural disaster, poverty, war and persecution are everyday realities for many. This does not minimize the threat of communicable disease; rather, we all are called to prayer and trust in the One whose love is greater than all the fear and struggle we face from any source.
May God be with you in your worship this Sunday and every Sabbath!
-Carol Goehring, Executive Director of Connectional Ministries
For other information about Worship and the Flu, you can also visit our previous Swine Flu resource page.
*Photo courtesy of Chris Heckert and the GBGM