I have a question: Since many church services are canceled due to COVID‐19, I’ve been thinking about a relevant question: When church services are canceled, can a Christian partake of the Lord’s Supper by himself? My answer has been “No” because we “come together” to do it (1 Cor. 11:33; Acts 20:7). This is also the position taken in your website’s following article, which I’ve recently read: The Setting for the Lord's Supper.
However, one passage the article doesn’t cite, one I’ve never thought about myself until recently, is I Corinthians 10:16-17. By saying “we” instead of “you,” Paul teaches that the Lord’s Supper involves communion with all members of the “one body” — the universal church of our Lord — not merely the local church one attends. In extending the communion we share across the universal church, does I Corinthians 10:16-17 provide authority to partake of the Lord’s Supper in times we’re unable to attend? I’m open to thoughts on this. Thank you!
It is true that I Corinthians 10:16-17 expresses the fact that the partaking of the Lord's Supper by all Christians everywhere is a common sharing of Christ's sacrifice. However, this doesn't change the passage in the next chapter that states how the Lord's Supper is to be taken. The Lord's Supper is taken together as a church (I Corinthians 11:17-34) that is assembled in one place.
This command has caused problems recently because the pandemic has caused government leaders to issue orders limiting the number of people gathering and, in some cases, forbidding all assemblies. Some of us have adapted by pulling up in the parking lot to assemble while remaining in our cars, others have divided the congregation into smaller groups and "assemble" virtually. In no case is this seen as a permanent change. The methods are not quite what God wants, but we must hope for God's mercy in this deviation until the present distress passes.
I've seen people on both sides of the issue. Some desire to partake of the Lord's Supper as best as they can despite the circumstances. Others have decided to wait until the distress is over and then resume the observance of the Lord's Supper, citing that they are being hindered by circumstances that are not in their control. We need to be patient and understanding with each other.
"But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.' So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this -- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way" (Romans 14:10-13).
Thank you for your reply! The general rule is definitely to partake while gathered as a church. However, when this present distress creates an exception, we should make the best judgment we can under the circumstances, being mindful of biblical principles from passages such as Romans 14. This makes sense to me.