None of that blood stuff

This morning was the first that I officially participated in a Communion liturgy. I have done it before actually. In seminary, I served many times. And even while I was serving as a Pastoral Associate during my studies, I did preside over the table, but that was at a Disciples of Christ congregation where they understand the priesthood of all believers more fully than we who designate ordained persons to serve the sacred meal.

Anyhow, I was nervous. Communion is a very big deal to me and I cherish the opportunity to serve in that role (or any role around the table). I was so nervous that I forgot part of the offering chereography. I was oddly tired this morning so that I felt groggy all through the service. Almost jetlagged, which I fear showed. I was talking too fast, one gentleman pointed out to me. Of course, he was kind to point out that it's my energy that makes me talk so fast. But, that didn't mask his critique too much. But, the truth was: I was tired and so very nervous. I was certain that I would mess something up, and I did stumble (whether or not anyone noticed).

I was very careful to choose my blessing over the cup. I chose words from the UCC Book of Worship for the most part for the prayer of Commissioning (not a prayer of thanksgiving, which I really don't understand theologically). But, as it was my role to serve the cup, I hate the blood language. I refuse to use it. I even refuse to word "forgiveness" for all that it infers. I just can't do it. I'm too much of a feminist, and may God bless me for that. So, I said,

"And in the same way, after supper, Jesus took the cup and blessed it. He poured out of the fruit of the wine and shared it with his friends saying, 'Take and drink for this is the cup of blessing shared among the many.'"

I wasn't sure if anyone noticed that I had used different language. I wasn't sure if I was going to hear it from the Deacons. But, I knew that I had to do what was in my heart. So, I just prayed that it was ok. But, I had no idea until I felt this hand squeeze my arm. She was coming up the stairs and stopped me as I was hurrying to Confirmation class. It was another little old lady. (God bless the little old ladies.) And she practically squealed. "Thank you so much for your words over the cup. I just love that! A cup of blessing!" She wandered off to talk about her daughter who rejects church because of that blood stuff. And then she said the words that I long to hear most, "I can't wait to tell her about your words! Maybe it will bring her back to church!"

Whether or not this woman comes back or stays away from church, it is my hope that a progressive voice is heard over and over again over the broken bread of the Communion feast. And may God bless the little old ladies who remind me that we do need this voice, even when they are not the same words that we grew up with.

1 comment:

Magdalene6127 said...

Hi Pastor Peters. I am also a Union grad (2003), and enjoyed many of the same influences that I'm sure helped to shape your sense of ministry. While I have made my peace with blood language around the words of institution (I am PCUSA), I applaud you for finding a formulation that evidently worked as well for your congregation as it did for you.

Blessings in your ministry around the table!