Communion on Twitter
Posted on 19 August 2010, 23:17
Writing my piece for the Church Times about the cancelled Twitter Communion, I talked with Rev Tim Ross (pictured above) on the phone about his thinking behind the project.
One of the questions I asked was whether Twitter was an appropriate medium for communion, which for me has always been a very reflective experience, while Twitter can be pretty noisy and fast-paced. I notice that Tim is currently following 1,945 people, which must make his feed quite busy.
He said, ‘I find Twitter quite intimate, as many people have asked for prayer in response to what I’ve been posting.’ His posts to date have been a mix of the Lord’s Prayer in contemporary language, individual prayers, and a service of prayer for Christian unity and vision.
Tim told me he especially likes the SMS-like brevity of tweets, the instantaneous nature of Twitter and the around-the-globe audience you reach whenever you click the Tweet button. These qualities gave him the idea for attempting his communion service.
‘We have to be careful about making communion too parochial,’ he said. ‘If we think it can only be expressed in a local body, that narrows our horizons. The teaching of Paul, that we are all one body, is about a deeper connectivity that goes around the world. The community of saints is bigger and broader than our geographical constraints.’
When I pointed out that the sense of community on Twitter is bound to be greatly diluted when compared to the average local church, he responded, ‘You can take communion alongside people all the time in a local church without knowing who they are.’
That observation really does ring a bell for me. One constant I’ve noticed over the years of talking about online religion is that the opponents of virtual church demand much higher standards of community than you will ever find in a local congregation.