College of Bishops reflection on worship during lockdown

March 27, 2020

There are many ways that the congregations of the Scottish Episcopal Church gather and worship: all of these have changed with the restrictions we now face.

The creativity and pastoral connections that the churches of the SEC are showing in this time are a wonderful testament to the faithfulness and resilience of the disciples in those churches!  Telephone contacts, personal prayer at home, posted weekly reflections, and, of course, online sharing of worship are all becoming part of our new shared life.  The College of Bishops wish to encourage this and thank you for your creativity!

A key aspect of SEC liturgical life is the regular sharing of word and sacrament in eucharistic worship.  There is a wonderful diversity in what this pattern of worship means in our lives as Christians.  In the present time of restriction, a Provincial service of liturgical eucharistic worship is being shared online, at 11am on Sundays.  This service (and other similar online worship) can mean different things to different people.  It can be a spiritual sharing in the eucharist.  It can also be sharing in prayer and reflection on the word of God. A wide range of views can be found in our churches.

The practice of ’spiritual communion’ (the intentional act of linking one’s prayer with the whole Church, and receiving Communion in the Holy Spirit, either because one is physically unable to receive it in Bread and Wine or because physical circumstances prevent being physically present), has a long tradition going back to the early church (especially in times of persecution).  This practice does not require bread and wine to be present in your own home: only the celebrant would have physical elements. If you wish to participate, please do not use bread and wine in your home to join in with the ‘spiritual communion’.  One can receive Spiritual Communion at the point where the celebrant receives by using a prayer such as:

We do not presume to come to this thy Holy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table: but thou art the same Lord, whose nature is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the Flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his Blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his most sacred Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen


God of infinite mercy, we thank you for Jesus our Saviour, who feeds his people and gives them eternal life. Though we cannot consume the gifts of bread and wine, we thank you that we do receive Christ’s saving presence, the forgiveness of sins, and all other benefits of his passion. Grant that we may continue for ever in the Risen Life of our Saviour. Amen


God of unending love, you are present to us in Word and Sacrament. With all around the world who gather to worship, I offer you my praise and thanksgiving; and though I cannot eat the bread of God, or drink the royal wine of heaven, I pray that I may know the fountain of your love drench my heart and your Incarnate presence encompass me behind and before, that through the power of your Spirit, I may rejoice in the sure and certain hope that I abide in your wondrous love now and for all eternity, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.