As I was visiting one of our shut-ins today, I was pondering a portion of the order that I often use with them. Following our meditation on the up-coming Sunday's sermon, we continue with the liturgy for the Lord's Supper. In the order I use, it begins:
"These elements have been carried from the altar of the church of our Lord Jesus Christ, where his blessed words of institution were spoken over them, words which I now repeat in your hearing."
These words highlight to the shut-in (or hospital patient, as the case may be) that he or she is still a part of our congregation and is still communing with us. It is not that he or she refuses to come to the altar with us; it is that physical weakness, ailments, or in some cases distance, prohibit it.
We are one body of Christ, and while some are unable to be with us, they are still of one body with us. Christ still comes to bless us with Holy Communion. For the shut-in, that is not some renegade form of Communion, as if it is a different or unique communion from the rest of the congregation.. It is still linked with God's altar and God's people. They are not forgotten. They are still united. They are still our fellow communicants. They are still blessed.