There’s a bit of a track-record with me celebrating the Lord’s Supper.
The very first time I officiated officially the elements were served to a small pomeranian that a member of the Attica church had brought to worship that morning. A group of Elders – including the Chair of the Nominating Committee that brought me there – informed me that I’d need to talk with the pet’s owner. When I gently told her that she couldn’t serve her dog communion, I expected a quick acquiescence. Instead, she asked ‘why?”. Not very quick on my feet, I instructed her that in the Presbyterian church, you needed to be baptized in order to receive the elements.
(Fortunately, she didn’t jump to the obvious conclusion – which would have included me baptizing her dog.)
Of course, there’s the first UNofficial time I officiated (prior to ordination… out of order, and all of that) in London, England on Christmas Eve. Miles away from home, in the company of good friends, we broke bread together. I imagine the grape juice stain is STILL on the rug of that Hostel.
Then there was the housefly that did a dive-bomb into the chalice during the words of Institution, provoking me to quietly ponder all the “waiter, there’s fly in my soup” jokes while the elements were distributed.
There’s been bread cubes prepared too far in advance that no doubt broke teeth, and grape juice that had turned to wine. Clattering trays, confused servers and more than a few times when I’ve tripped over the microphone cord.
Today, the loaf of bread wouldn’t rip until I noticed that the communion preparer had neatly scored a cut in the loaf perpendicular to my failed attempt at ‘breaking’ the loaf. Moments later, the sleeve of my robe captured the now severed loaf and sent it flying to the ground. Some of the congregation laughed. Others frowned. Some remained (gratefully) unobservant – caught up in the sacramental moment. That I had preached moments earlier on how the best laid plans could go awry was not lost on the gathered.
“This is the joyful feast of the people of God”. Sacred, somber, reflective, awe-inspiring yes… but also, at it’s root, joyful. This is not the meal of a pre-tomb people. This is the eye-popping Emmaus feast. It’s not a funeral repast, but a incredible party for the Whole People of God.
So… we laughed a bit today as the bread was passed (dropped!) and the cup was shared. It was a bit impious on the surface, but it fed a deep joy that is grounded in the love we have for one another, and in the love of our God.
This IS the joyful feast. We ARE the people of God.
And we laugh.
My biggest communion “things not going according to plan” event involved me knocking the chalice full of grape juice all over the beautiful white table cloth in front of the entire congregation. It was quite a moment. At the next deacon meeting I was presented with a sippy cup, which still sits on my shelf.
Don’t you love it when the Community responds with grace and humor? Glad to know I’m not alone in my travails!
I remember well your first UNofficial communion officiation (is that a word?) One of my fondest memories of that trip… And as I remember, the host sustained us, literally, through the following two days of holidays. God Bless the body of Christ, in oh, so many ways!
::laugh:: Especially when we ran into all the obstacles in finding sustenance that first day! Between the bread and your bag of candy… we managed!