Lord's Supper in Hospital

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PaulCLawton

Puritan Board Freshman
A question for those who oppose the celebration of the Lord's Supper in any setting other than corporate Lord's Day worship: what are your thoughts on the following?
  • Celebrated in a hospital with a member who is unable to attend worship
  • Made public (perhaps announcing to the congregation that "The Lord's supper will be celebrated at the Main St. Hospital at 11:00 on Tuesday")
  • Administered by a pastor; minister of Word & Sacrament
  • Accompanied by the exposition of the Word
  • Overseen by an elder(s)
In my cursory reading, this would seem not to violate Belgic Confession 35, Lord's Day 28-30 or URCNA church order 46.
 

PaulCLawton

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you, I did read over those threads before posting. The question I ask here is really, "To those who object in all cases to the LS outside of ordinary circumstances", what would your objection be in the circumstance and with the parameters I outlined?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Consider it background for those who have not read the old threads then. I don't have any objections but the it must be done carefully, not treated superstitious, etc. qualifications.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
What do you mean by 'ordinary circumstances'? A church building?
 

PaulCLawton

Puritan Board Freshman
What do you mean by 'ordinary circumstances'? A church building?

I mean what I understand URCNA CO 46 to mean when it says, "...at least every three months in a service of corporate worship" which I take to mean ordinary Lord's Day worship, which would in almost all cases be in a church building, yes.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I was not aware that there are some who object to the LS outside of a church building. Is this an intramural debate within the URCNA?
 

PaulCLawton

Puritan Board Freshman
I was not aware that there are some who object to the LS outside of a church building. Is this an intramural debate within the URCNA?

I think you are focusing too narrowly on the building, that is really not what constitutes ordinary circumstances in this case, the issue is whether the LS can or should be celebrated outside the context of corporate, Lord's Day worship. And yes, there are those who object (and not just in the URC) - the purpose of this thread was to try and draw out objections to the circumstances I outlined above.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm sure some would worry that the corporate nature of the Supper is undermined, or that in celebrating it outside of a full worship service you remove it from its proper context. But those don't worry me in the situation you describe.

The main question I would ask is why does the hospitalized person desire the Supper so badly. I would want to make sure they are not associating any superstitious powers to it, feeling that by partaking they are somehow coercing God to be good to them: to heal them, save them if they are dying, etc. It might be difficult to ascertain that they have the right mindset about the Supper, and therefore unwise.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I found this by Sproul: https://www.ligonier.org/blog/it-appropriate-serve-communion-shut-ins/

On Jack's points:

"First, they rightly affirm that we should never separate the sacraments from the Word...It has always been my practice with shut-ins to include an exposition of the Word, before serving the bread and the wine."

"Others object that communion is a corporate event. It’s not something we should be doing alone...it has always been my practice to celebrate the table of our Lord with other saints. I eat and drink. The shut-in eats and drinks. Other believers that are present eat and drink. It may not be the full local body, but it is two or three gathered in His name."

I would add that none of the church body should be excluded, if they desire to participate.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
We should be guarding against BOTH idolizing or fetishizing the sacrament, and trivializing or neglecting the benefit unique to the sacrament. You don't get a "different" Christ in the sacrament (than in the Word); but sometimes you get him better. So, a shut-in deserves as full a presentation of Christ as any other member gets, as far as is possible.

Don't merely "say" it's a worship service; it should BE a worship service, containing necessary elements. It should have a call to worship and a benediction, along with the Word preached conjoined with the sacrament administered. And how about a Psalm (Mt.26:30)?

It should be announced ahead of time for the sake of all the members of the congregation; and it should be "public" even if its in a hospital room, though possibly with space restrictions noted.
 

PaulCLawton

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm sure some would worry that the corporate nature of the Supper is undermined, or that in celebrating it outside of a full worship service you remove it from its proper context. But those don't worry me in the situation you describe.

The main question I would ask is why does the hospitalized person desire the Supper so badly. I would want to make sure they are not associating any superstitious powers to it, feeling that by partaking they are somehow coercing God to be good to them: to heal them, save them if they are dying, etc. It might be difficult to ascertain that they have the right mindset about the Supper, and therefore unwise.

Hi Jack, the scenario I have in mind is a member who is hospital (or home) bound for months, possibly even years at the end of his life. I assume he would desire to partake for the same reason every Christian does; the nourishing of the soul and strengthening of faith. You are right to point out that the consistory should not do this hastily, but proper self-examination is necessary for the member; our liturgical form is a help in this.
 

PaulCLawton

Puritan Board Freshman
We should be guarding against BOTH idolizing or fetishizing the sacrament, and trivializing or neglecting the benefit unique to the sacrament. You don't get a "different" Christ in the sacrament (than in the Word); but sometimes you get him better. So, a shut-in deserves as full a presentation of Christ as any other member gets, as far as is possible.

Don't merely "say" it's a worship service; it should BE a worship service, containing necessary elements. It should have a call to worship and a benediction, along with the Word preached conjoined with the sacrament administered. And how about a Psalm (Mt.26:30)?

It should be announced ahead of time for the sake of all the members of the congregation; and it should be "public" even if its in a hospital room, though possibly with space restrictions noted.

Rev. Buchanan this is helpful...I take your position to mean that it is not enough to include only an exposition of the Word and the proper administration of the sacrament (which in our case would include the use of the appropriate liturgical form) but all the necessary elements of a worship service. That puts my initial thoughts into a different context and I have less hesitation when considering it that way.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I've done it for shut-ins a few times. And I follow what you outlined above. There's an open invitation for church members to come. I try to have at least one elder with me. Usually we do it in the same day as we have communion in public worship. The service is short, Word (usually reviewing the passage and points from the sermon that Lord's day), Sacrament, and Prayer. My two cents...
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Do you use the same elements as the worship service? Crackers and little cups? Or whatever is available at the hospital?
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
and it should be "public" even if its in a hospital room, though possibly with space restrictions noted.

Depending upon the patient's condition, he or she might be able to be taken to the hospital's chapel where the service could be held and a larger crowd assembled.

the scenario I have in mind is a member who is hospital (or home) bound for months, possibly even years at the end of his life.

That's going to be rare in most US hospitals. They are going to move folks out as quickly as they can to extended care facilities.

But I'll take it a step farther - why limit the worship services at the hospital or extended care facility to those times when a member is present?
 
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