Sunday, July 3, 2011
Mister noticed the shiny vessels of communion in the sanctuary this morning before I did. Our church uses polished, stacking trays for the tiny wafers and miniature cups of grape juice. And since it is the first Sunday of the month, the four gleaming towers were arranged at the front of the sanctuary this morning like tall and tempting hats.
“What is that?” Mister asked.
“That is communion,” I answered. “In those trays are the crackers and juice we use to remember that Jesus died for us.”
“I want some.” He turned his face towards mine so he could register my response.
“I think the kids will be dismissed before they get passed out, Buddy. Sorry.”
“Well, you can just save me some.”
I mumbled something to fill the space where a good answer would have gone. I was not really entertaining the idea of keeping extra elements in my pocket for after-church snack. But I did not want to try to explain why Jesus had to be remembered so tastily only during the time allotted.
But the kids were not dismissed. And Mister whispered loudly in my ear when he realized his good fortune. “Look, they are getting the snack out. I get to have some!” I know Mister has a clear understanding of the miraculous series of events surrounding the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, because he shared them with us a few summers ago when Grandma was visiting. She had been quizzing him about what he learned in Sunday school over lunch in the backyard.
“Well . . . well . . . but, did you know Grandma that . . . well . . . Jesus had to go to that bad place.”
“That is right, Mister.” She answered affirmingly. “But he will never have to go there again, will he?”
“Nope. Because he took his shooter gun and he killed all those guys.” He answered, nodding and looking her in the eye.
I looked at my shoes and bit hard on the corner of a smile.
So, the elements came around and Mister patiently pressed his wafer into his palm, waiting for the pastor’s word. At the proper time he popped it in his mouth, turned to show me where it had landed on his tongue before closing his mouth. “Ummm. That’s good,” he said loudly.
The juice was eventually passed, and everyone around us held their breath, as Sis handed it off to the woman next to her with the white and pink blouse. Mister stared into his cup with statue-like focus. Sis absent-mindedly sloshed hers around as each of the muscles in her torso took turns twitching. When it was time to partake, there was much slurping. In my periphery I saw Sis twisting the thimble-cup around and around with a pink tongue smashed inside, getting the last good drops of Jesus.
It was absolutely the most fun I have had during communion in all my life. There have been other Sundays where I have been struck with embarrassing fits of giggles, or the one earlier this year, when the baby snatched a handful of wafers from the passing tray, which – once confiscated – turned into a warm glue in my palm. But today was fun. And it was also beautiful. As the Psalmist suggests, these babes tasted and found that the Lord was good. They participated.
I do not know what prayer Mister prayed with his head bowed, one eye closed and other inspecting the little remembrance of God in his palm. Neither do I know the thoughts of his sister who held her wafer balanced between open palms. I think she was aiming for reverence with a touch of piety as evidenced by a faint smurk. She was all business. Those span of minutes were both sacred and funny, like the time Sis and I, after walking the Stations of the Cross while reading a gospel account of the Easter (her idea), stopped and arranged a statue of St. Gertrude on top of her head. I think God smiled. So did Sis.
Later in this morning’s service I got a second gift. As I opened the doors to return to my seat I saw a sweet little boy (who often sits on the floor with his dad at the back during the sermon) sitting at attention in the center isle. He was backlit, so his perfect little body was silhouetted against the cross at the front. He was waving eagerly with both hands – either at the Cross of Christ, or its appointed messenger standing with a Bible and a microphone. I smiled deeply.
Faith like a child.
Faith like a mustard seed.
Little eager bits of earnest hope and expectation.
This God loves.