Last month it was all the rage to talk about online communion (#onlinecommunion) in the United Methodist Church. Papers were written, a summit was called, twitter tweeted, and some outsiders looked on with either wonder or disgust. The end result: there were too many issues that made online communion problematic for the moment. A moratorium was urged on those Methodist pastors practicing online communion and on a large church in North Carolina that was considering the issue. Click here for the full list of resources, position papers, and news articles on this conversation.
But really I think all that was really shortsighted.
Because while online communion may not be able to overcome the theological problems of self-serve communion, priestly blessing of elements, and other issues…folks, there’s a simple solution to all those problems.
Yes, I’m talking about Drone Communion.
Ridiculous? Not really. As we found out last night, it is closer than you think.
On December 1st, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos revealed one of his company’s secret projects: a drone program to rapidly deliver packages across the country in about five years. Really. Here’s the video:
Amazing, right? So Bezos’ vision is that his little drones can deliver packages in a certain radius within a half-hour of about 85% of Amazon.com orders (85% are under 5 pounds, the weight limit).
So I want to thank Bezos. Because if Amazon.com can do it, why can’t the church do the same thing? And the best thing about drone communion is that it silences MOST if NOT ALL of the detractors of online communion.
Here’s how Drone Communion would work:
- People within a geographic area around a local church can “order” their Communion online and hopefully watch the streamed worship service.
- The Pastor can bless the Sacrament in a traditional worship context at a particular time (so not just once-and-done “drop-in” communion, which is frowned upon).
- The Sacraments along with a pre-recorded pastor’s voice are loaded onto a drone and sent out to the people’s homes.
- The Sacraments arrive and when the person gets near to the drone, the pastor’s voice recites the required sections of “home communion” according to This Holy Mystery, page 23.
When Holy Communion is extended to those unable to attend, the liturgy should include the reading of the Scripture Lesson(s), the Invitation, Confession and Pardon, the Peace, the Lord’s Prayer, distribution, and post-Communion prayer. A prayer of Great Thanksgiving should not be repeated, since this service is an extension of the Communion service held earlier
- The drone can then drop the bread and offer the cup to the person. In this way, the drone “gives” communion to the person so they are not “self-serving” the communion elements.
- BONUS: The drone can also drop off and return pledge cards or giving envelopes. Because these drones are expensive.
- The drone then takes off and heads home. If no one approaches the drone within a set amount of time, it simply returns home automatically so as to not do “reserve communion” beyond the understood time limit.
Friends, we should be proud for three accomplishments.
We’ve solved the problem of online communion, we’ve dealt with most of the major critiques of online communion, and we’ve made (for an exorbitant price) communion available for all people within a fly zone of the church.
Through our online genius, we’ve extended the table to truly reflect John Wesley’s contention “The World is My Parish.” Well done, friends.
What say you?
May the drone be with you.
And also with you.