The LCMS has a number of COVID-19 resources on their website at https://www.lcms.org/how-we-serve/mercy/health-ministry/pandemic, but in particular we wanted to point out the recent statement by the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) on “Communion and Covid-19,” written to “promote and encourage the proper practice of the Lord’s Supper in faithfulness to the teaching and example of Christ.” President Rast serves as CTCR Chairman.
Here’s a long quote from the piece:
“Such churches are able to find various ways to help members to hear the Word of Christ richly. From telephone calls to emails to website messaging to instant messaging to sermon streaming, the Word is being heard and received in the midst of the coronavirus. But what of the Sacrament of the Altar? The forgiveness of sins is not prevented when one cannot commune, for it is delivered by the Gospel as it is read and preached and spoken by the royal priesthood and also in the sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Supper as well as in Absolution. But it is only in the Lord’s Supper that we eat and drink Christ’s very body and blood. It thereby offers a special assurance that is proper only to it, just as Baptism has its own assurances. The inability to commune is therefore no small matter, but a true hardship!
“We know, however, that the church has known this hardship at other times and not only in our own time. During the early years of colonial America, Lutherans often went weeks or months without the Supper. Congregations without a pastor are often unable to receive the Lord’s Supper in their services because supply pastors are unavailable—sometimes for lengthy time periods. And, in the early 20th century during the great influenza epidemic of 1918–1919, many Missouri Synod churches were not able to meet for any services during a period of time. We are not in uncharted territory.”
The statement then goes into more details about specific unsatisfactory solutions to the unavailability of the Lord’s Supper, which have been tackled in previous CTCR statements. They explain the problems with those solutions, then summarize like so:
“The Lord’s Supper is intended to strengthen faith in God’s forgiving grace, a faith which counts on the Word of Christ’s promise that the bread and wine are His body and blood. To introduce doubts or uncertainty about the Sacrament negates this purpose. We can be thankful that God in His mercy has not given the Lord’s Supper as the only ‘means of grace.’ Instead, he showers us with His grace. The Gospel is not silenced, forgiveness is proclaimed, Baptism will be administered even in emergencies, and Baptism is lived out daily by means of repentance and the new life that God’s Spirit enables us to live in any and all circumstances.”
You can read the statement in full by clicking here. CTCR resources for further study are included at the end of the document.