Hello. Welcome one. Welcome all. Phew, it’s hot. I think it’s due to finish in about seven hours so, those of you who like this kind of thing (usually, younger people who haven’t macheted their way through the menopause) – you need to make the most of it.
It’s not even the school holidays yet,. although anecdotally, I believe at least 90% of the school population (pupils, teachers. dinner ladies, caretakers, people who sell drugs at the school gate) are all isolating at the moment so it feels like the holidays because there are young people everywhere. We live very close to the sea and, there are approximately 300 paddle boards, bobbing along nose to tail at any given moment. Bless them.
Today being Sunday we, as faithful, faith filled Christian types went to church. This morning was communion morning. I have spoken to HOH about this and have his full and cheery permission to talk about this, but HOH has more reason than most to dread communion. It’s not that he his battling inner demons (well not this week anyway) but HOH has a tremor – nothing sinister – it is a genetic thing. His mother had it, his sister has it and FOW1 has it. On a day to day basis, it has little effect on his life. I barely notice it – which can be problematic when he is waiting for me to carry a particularly full cup of coffee. But, when it comes to communion. he hates it.
His unfavourite way to take communion is in a very formal atmosphere. If he has to walk forward, kneel and take a small glass and drink from it, it can tip him over the edge. His big worry as he lifts the glass, is that we will all get bit. Also, when communion is given out by people who walk between the rows and thrust the tray at you for you to take your little glass – he often has to refuse. This leads to whoever is serving giving him a long hard stare because they think that there is some deep undeclared sin. (There is – you are really annoying me – by not taking that tray away after I said nicely NO THANK YOU).
We have had some problems with this in the past. We once drew a vicar’s attention to it because we weren’t sure how we could make it happen. His response was “I don’t think I have a solution really. We do tend to take communion kneeling at the front. We always have.”
The thing is, I sometimes wonder if we overdo it a bit. Obviously, it is a solemn and mature thing that should always be taken carefully and thoughtfully. But does that means that, we place lots of hedges around it to make sure it retains its mystery and solemnity?
When I was in the youth, people who served communion to the congregation were given instructions about what to do if they approached someone who didn’t know that there were there because they were deep in prayer/pretending to be deep in prayer/asleep. Servers were always trained to touch the person’s shoulder gently and say “The body/blood of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Lovely. except my friend’s grandad could never remember that so he would improvise. He would set off with his little tray and to get someone’s attention he would touch their shoulder and say,
“What about the Wanderers on Saturday eh”?
Or there was the time when an older child of Sunday school who was “working through a few things” (in other words – absolute nightmare – we all had to keep reminding ourselves that God loved him) told the rest of his class that he had heard what the server had said to gain someone’s attention. (The server was a man who was looking hard for a third wife and had the reputation of being a bit keen on the old jig-a-jig). The boy reckoned that the man had gained people’s attention by touching their shoulder and whispering a rude word that really make their eyes open quickly. Of course, it wasn’t true but it took us ages to close the rumour down.
This is the position that Communion has sometimes – anything that challenges the norm is sacrilegious.
Except one year on a youth camp. I went as one of the leaders. It was quite a long weekend, with a lot of back rubbing, tissue handing out, praying and explaining that the Second Coming may not be so imminent as to prevent you ever getting married. I wasn’t that sure that Jesus would hold off for weddings but it wasn’t my place to say. It was also the weekend where someone prayed for me and said the loveliest thing ever. ” Can I pray for you? I promise I won’t go mad.” See? Lovely.
Anyway, the leader decided that Communion would be taken in a field on the farm. We would take blackcurrant and bread and pray in the great outdoors. Except, he didn’t check the field first. The floor was full of cow pats, flies and, to our horror a couple of interested cows. The youth leader knew immediately that he had lost the room because people started laughing – despite trying not to. And he said, “It’s supposed to be a meal of remembrance, remembering love and joy and grace – and laughter and I can’t help but feel that God is fine with this”. And I have never forgot that morning.
As it turns out, during the pandemic, we have been using these little self sealed cups with bread and wine in them (see above). They are much easier for HOH to use and he can take communion along with everyone else. After the meeting, we asked the minister, with some trepidation if would be ok for him to continue – even though communion was going back to normal. We wondered if it would go against the grain a bit. His answer was an apology for not thinking about the problem and saying of course – he had a boxful of the things he was going to struggle to get rid of anyway. It was, in short, a relief.
You may feel different to me and that it is a solemn thing to always be done with great solemnity. I don’t have a problem with that – as long as it is done with bucketfuls of grace as well. Have a good week.