Three months ago, the idea of drive-thru communion would have been absurd. Most people would snort and roll their eyes, thinking that this is just one more case of how busy our society has become, always looking for convenience. But since the COVID-19 pandemic, drive-thru communion has become fairly common, people literally lining up to receive the body and blood of Christ from a masked and gloved pastor. Really, it almost sounds comical, like something you’d see in a bad movie. But in the absence of an actual church service, pastors have had to get creative in ministering to their flocks, and church members have had to rethink the way they worship.
Living in a parsonage has its perks. We had front-row seats to the entire drive-thru communion drama this weekend. My kids were able to spy on the cars lining up and report to me how many were there. We could see my husband (the pastor) and the two elders, all wearing masks and gloves. In 15-minute segments, two to four cars lined up for a mini service, complete with confession and absolution, a couple Bible readings, and the Lord’s Supper.
I wish you could have seen it. The big picture, that is. The folks in their cars had only a limited view. To them, it was a congregation of less than ten people, sitting in cars with their windows rolled down as their pastor shouted words from a safe distance. Perhaps some of them even felt like it was a letdown compared to an actual church service. But in reality, it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. People just kept coming. We have a fairly small dual parish in the country, many of whom are older and didn’t want to risk coming out even for this. Yet despite that, there was a great turnout for communion. Just as one set of cars finished, another few cars drove up to take their place. It brought tears to my eyes to see how valuable this was to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. They made the effort to come out to partake of the body and blood of their Lord and Savior, even in an unconventional setting.
Like the folks in the individual cars, we can’t see the big picture either, even if we’re participating in a huge church service with thousands of people present. Our view on this earth is extremely limited. The invisible Church throughout the world is so much bigger than we can imagine, and that still isn’t a big enough view. When we worship, we sing with “the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.” Think about that! The Church includes all believers who have come before us, from Abel to David to Isaiah to Peter to John to the Church Fathers to your grandparents. We’re worshipping with all saints of all times and all places, even when we can’t perceive that.
We may not always have the advantage of being surrounded by fellow believers or being able to congregate in our churches. This year, we might think our Easter worship is a letdown. But Christ is present with His people nonetheless. He meets us where we are. Even in cars for communion.