Where did you get the idea for
"Holy Communion on the Web?"
There was once a time when the very idea of taking Communion over the internet was repugnant to me. I am an Anglo-Catholic United Methodist ... or, as was once said of John Wesley, I'm very much a "Sacramentarian." The Eucharist is so central to my Christian spirituality that the thought of one celebrating the sacrament over the internet smacked of rank irreverence. Nothing could have been further from the truth, however, and it took the tragic circumstances of life and health for God to demonstrate this fact to me.
In 2001 I suffered a Pulmonary Embolism which nearly killed me. For 9 months I was either confined to bed or otherwise severely restricted in my range of motion and activity. For most of this time I not only couldn't serve as a pastor, I couldn't even attend public worship. In other words, due to my illness I was not able to receive Holy Communion. Had one of my clergy-friends brought the elements to my home during this period I could have received it, but for whatever reason that didn't happen. Or, rather, it did happen ... just not the way I expected. You see, a clergy-friend of mine did bring the Sacrament of Holy Communion to me in my home. He didn't come, physically, into my home, but he was nevertheless there, several times a day, through the medium of the internet. This clergy-friend was Dr. Gene Scott. Through his world-wide television and radio network, and most especially through his internet ministry (www.DrGeneScott.com), Gene brought the blessed Sacrament into my home where I could receive it on a daily basis. Thanks to his long-standing practice of bringing the Lord's Supper into the homes of his congregation through TV, radio, and the internet, I went from Sacramental starvation to Divine nourishment. At first I rationalized it by telling myself that I was an ordained minister and could celebrate the Sacrament for myself, if I wished. However, as I listened to his Eucharistic messages, and experienced the life-transforming Grace of partaking of the Sacrament on a daily basis, I came to see the remarkable wisdom of Dr. Scott's offering Communion in this manner. In short, I changed my mind. The Lord's Supper is too critically important to not offer it in every way possible.
I'm not going to claim that Dr. Scott and I agreed on every fine point of theology, nor even on every aspect of Sacramental Theology -- though I do suspect that most of the differences which we did have are more in the arena of flavoring, style, and approach than in fundamental substance. Nevertheless, we did share a common faith in Jesus Christ, a common love of the Gospel of Grace, and a common appreciation for the intellectual pursuits. We came from different denominational and theological backgrounds, but Gene Scott and I were still brothers in Christ and fellow-shepherds in the service of the Lord.
Dr. Scott's background was in the non-liturigical stream of the Christian tradition. His Communion services reflected that background in many respects, and especially in how they were conducted. Gene usually presided at the table in an informal style, discussing the biblical and theological foundations in a manner which flowed, without a break, straight to the Words of Institution and the act of communing itself. This informality was both different and refreshing for many, and while I could authentically receive God's Grace in such services, there was still a void where liturgical practice was concerned. This set me to thinking: if Dr. Scott could offer the Lord's Supper to Christians of the non-liturgical tradition over the internet, why couldn't I offer the same to Christians of a liturgical, protestant-catholic background? Frankly, I couldn't think of any reason why not. And that's how "Holy Communion on the Web" was born.
I want to thank my friend and colleague in the ministry, Dr. Gene Scott, for his Eucharistic ministry on the internet; it was the inspiration which directly led to my "Holy Communion on the Web" initiative in my own ministry. As I said in November of 2002, during my second address before his congregation at the University Cathedral, Dr. Scott was a pastor to me when I desperately needed one. May the Lord always bless his ministry and memory.