Saturday, April 08, 2006
pass the wine and crackers
i love Communion.
i've always felt that it was special and good and there is something about the ritual that's so comforting to me. we don't celebrate the sacrament every week at my church, but to have that sacrament every week, to me, is an affirming and edifying pleasure.
when i was a girl, the women in my church jostled for the privilege to prepare the communion table. it was a simple mission-style table but when it was covered with the special, embroidered white linens, it took on mystery. the old pastor's wife (we called her Ama, because she was such a close friend to my family) would take me and my little sister after sunday school and show us how to fill the little glasses, where the bread was and which silver plate to put it on; she'd show us how to fold the linens, how to lay the white gloves.
and doing all this while the yellow light streamed in from our colored windows was special.
i grew up watching the women in the church, including my mother, dressed in white, serving the pastor (first old Jake and then my father), and wearing their dainty white gloves while my godmother obliterated some hymn from the choir. i watched the ritual and wanted to be one of those women to participate in that ceremony but i grew up and moved away before that could happen. (and now i'm a presbyterian and the process is so complicated you need a degree to navigate it.)
the most moving communion service i've experienced did not happen on a particularly special day on the church calendar. i was sitting toward the rear on the sanctuary, ready to leave quickly so that i could prepare for my duties at the following service. perhaps it was the song from the choir, an arrangement from holst's The Planets.
but it was after the whole congregation had been served, when we were reciting the 23rd psalm, that the meaning of the service sunk into me - and it felt just like that, a deep penetration. maybe it was that i knew the psalm by heart and could say it with my eyes closed or maybe it was the slow, meditative way all of us were participating but the feeling i experienced was a combination of repentance, of awe toward christ and deep community with those around me.