But despite Zoom’s many advantages, no technology can outweigh the fact that Christianity is inescapably physical. It is not just “a message” that can be communicated through social media. It is also about bodily participation, the receiving of bread and wine.
And while the carefully nuanced and endlessly debatable metaphysics of how bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus is a question I have long left to the theological anoraks, I have no doubt that receiving the Eucharist is a physical activity requiring physical participation. The statements “this is my body” and “this is my blood” make Christianity about matter, physically ingested. You can no more do this over Zoom than you can go to the dentist over Zoom.
This is why lockdown has been such a threat – literally – to the lifeblood of the Christian faith. And why the bolted door was such a betrayal of the need of so many of my parishioners for the “real presence” of Christ in the Eucharist.
This Thursday evening, Maundy Thursday, churches traditionally hold “watch services” where we sit up into the small hours to stay with a terrified man who did not want to be alone on the night before he was to die. This year it will be hard not to think of all those who have died without the physical presence of their loved ones beside them.
Saying goodbye over Zoom, unable to reach out to hold someone’s hand, has to be among the most appalling things that some families will ever go through. And Last Rites are really not for Skype.
Christian faith can’t be sustained on Zoom https://t.co/9DCdtsRWai
— Simon Sarmiento (@simonsarmiento) March 29, 2021