The Communion of Saints

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting,

Amen.

Leading worship in a mostly-empty sanctuary is hard. Don’t get me wrong, I think our church council has made exactly the right decision. Every postponed gathering gives a better chance of people getting a vaccine before they get this virus. Every mitigation gives our medical system a better chance of caring for every patient who needs it.

Even so, it’s hard to lead worship without all of you in the sanctuary. For one thing, there’s the simple mechanics of it that are tricky to get right. When I preach, I can’t tell if what I’m saying is funny or moving or challenging or reassuring like I hope it is. Most of all, standing there at 10:09, sharing my sermon, I miss you. I can just picture where each of you might sit if we were there together.

This past Sunday, it especially hit me during the hymn of the day. I miss hearing your voices. And then do you know what happened? God showed up. To be sure, God is present in worship whether one or one hundred are gathered, just as God is with us each day of our lives. This was more like a giant neon sign, right in front of me.

It was these words: “the communion of saints.”

I almost choked up at that moment, to be perfectly honest. Right there, in black and white, were words that form the foundation of Christian faith, words that have been spoken for 1700 years in hundreds of languages at millions of worship services.

We believe in the communion of saints. We believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are connected with all God’s people. We are not alone. The same Holy Spirit is present in each one of us. That’s a powerful connection.

The communion of saints means that when I lead a service from the sanctuary and you watch it live on Facebook, or you tune into the recording later on Sunday afternoon, or you catch up a week later, or you follow the bulletin by itself at home, we are connected. We are communing with one another, to use a churchy word.

That might sound awfully mystical and abstract to some of you. That’s okay. Not every part of our faith is equally meaningful to each of us.

For others, like me, those words are just what you need right now. The reminder than even when you’re by yourself, you are connected by the Holy Spirit to each and every saint. Like cells making up the body of Christ, we each have our own place and role, but we are connected to a greater whole.

In this time apart, we still have the communion of saints. We still have our connection with one another through the Holy Spirit. Each and every way that we are able to connect with each other is a gift. When we are aware of how much we don’t have right now, let that be a reminder to see what we do have, what no pandemic could ever take away. We have Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday and today and tomorrow.

Holy Spirit, we thank you for the communion of saints, and for all the ways you connect us together. Help us trust even when we feel most alone that you are always holding us together. Amen.

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