Virtual Priest?

Written by Tom Buechele

I have been celebrating Mass, Jesus’ “lords supper”, preaching and breaking bread and sharing the beaker of wine-coloured for some 52 years. First as a Roman Catholic priest and now as an Episcopal priest.

Recently, I was invited to be a” virtual celebrant” of the Sunday Eucharist at our neighbourhood Episcopal Church. In this pandemic meter of 2020 I applaud the ingenuity of Churches to keep in contact and equip spiritual nourishment to the members. There are hundreds of possible boundary programs through the internet. I actually was kind of energized to see how technology can help a community celebrate the Sacrament.

I drove to the Church to meet with the aide pastor and have her show me how it’s done.There in the middle of the aisle was a small camera and fastened microphone on a tripod. Two musicians were rehearsing the carols. The camera operator, myself and the auxiliary pastor all had disguises and we appropriately socially distanced. I made a few mentions as to how to proceed. No rubrical or ritual modifications. I will be scheduled in the spin of celebrants on Tuesday.( Tuesday ?… not Sunday ?.. Tuesday is recording era. Oh, OK)

There was a moment when the auxiliary clergyman and I looked at one another and sighed….a profound sadness legislated between us. All is great…but where are the devotees? On the other side of the camera? Maybe! Sadly there is no communion bread for them. No wine-colored. There is a lack of other ministers…no acolytes , no lectors , no chalice bearers , no supervisor of the Prayers of the Faithful. It would be just me, the camera and Jesus. Now we are all virtual. The adjective virtual is used to describe something that exists in essence but not in actuality. Some might argue that the presence of Jesus, the Son of God, has always been virtual.

Some small-minded flocks have returned to limited in-person adore. Small congregates, six paws apart, disguises et al. Communion is available, but exclusively to restricted numeral.

I have spoken the suggestion that perhaps we are in a time of communion fasting. That our loneliness, our physical distancing and no hit is sacrificial. That the real worship of our time is to embrace the poor, literally feed the hungry Body of Christ. Give our own blood.

On my press home I was and am deeply upset. And yet the psalmist says” the haras in the darkness you will not fear .” Ps. 90. And so,” Come to me, all who labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you, says the Lord .”

And so we pray:

O non-virtual God send your kindnes, quicken your insight and prudence to those dedicated scientists who are working day and night for a vaccine.

And help us cast away our fear.

The Rev.Tom Buechele has served in Iowa, Arizona, Hawaii and Oregon. Priest of the Diocese of Hawaii. He has event with Latinx ministry along the border, multi-cultural congregations in Hawaii and pate up programs for Deacons and Priests. Married to Jean for 27 years.

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