For some time, people have refrained from taking the common cup due to germs and probably the modern general disgust of sharing things. Of course, there are many articles and even scientific studies available demonstrating the near impossibility of catching an illness from a metallic chalice and alcohol.
These days people’s concerns are obviously heightened as they considered the pandemic, people gathering, and enjoying the Lord’s gifts. Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be cautious. There is nothing wrong or unfaithful about refraining from the table if you feel you might get sick or get someone else sick. There is nothing wrong with congregations doing things to keep their people safe from obvious threats.
I would like to promise people that God would not let them get sick taking communion. I would like to promise people that surely if God desires us to come together and hear His Word and receive the body and blood of His Son, He certainly will not allow any harm to happen. But that simply is not true! You may actually die from catching an illness from the common cup, shaking someone’s hand, grabbing the door knob as you entered, or even, God forbid, swallowing a droplet from Mrs. Easton’s quiet sneeze that went up in the air and hung there on that particular day the ceiling fan was circulating the air on a warm sunny day in June.
It would be wrong of me to make such promises just as it would be wrong for me to tell someone who fears gathering that they must not be a ‘true’ believer. It is what it is. We do not hear, chew, eat and drink on God’s Word because it cures our temporary ailments. We gather and consume His Word because it does give us, for certain, eternal life. On that I promise you! I can promise you the body and blood of Christ will raise your dead bones from the grave one day. I can promise you God’s Word will feed your ever-living spirit and give you confidence in His never changing promises of forgiveness and resurrection. You can be certain about that.
In the meantime, don’t let anybody sell you anything else about God’s Word and Sacraments. Don’t let anyone tell you that if you really believed you would defy the governor’s safety orders and go to church anyways. Don’t let anyone tell you that if you really believe you won’t get sick when you go to church. Also, don’t let anyone tell you hearing and consuming God’s Word is not essential either!
Use the brain God gave you. Feel free to be cautious. Do not be bullied either way. And sooner than later, come forward.
Who knows, maybe one day you will make a mistake. Years from now on a perfectly fine day, after confessing your sins and hearing God’s Word of forgiveness, you catch a cold from a germ that slipped down from the ministers hand onto your Body of the Lord and it leads to pneumonia, death, and the warm arms of the risen Savior! And you are more alive than ever, never to worry about pandemics, germs, job loss, and faithfulness again! So be bold. God wins in the end.