Monday, May 05, 2008

I'd rather stand in line than raise my hand.

There’s a guy standing in front of me. He looks like a rocker, he’s got a pierced eyebrow and lip, hunched shoulders squashed into a vintage blue shirt. Skinny black jeans that end in flip flop clad feet. He’s got more product in his hair than I do. I think it’s dyed too, that kind of chunky flat black color.

The fact that we’re both standing together in the communion line amuses and pleases me to no end.

When I was growing up, My Mother The Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much wouldn’t let me take communion until I was confirmed in the church. Her view was that there was no point in partaking of a ritual that I didn’t yet understand. I can see both sides to that, (the flip side being that ingraining yourself in a ritual from a very early age makes it less likely that you’ll stop it later. So everyone should start tithing when they’re like, two years old or something.) Once I was confirmed (sixth grade, I think), I didn’t really think communion was cool even though I was finally allowed to do it. I didn’t really think anything about it. Here’s the tray with pieces of bread going down the pew, here’s the tray with grape juice in tiny plastic cups that your dolls could have a tea party with going down the pew.

Since we were Presbyterians we stayed still, and the bread and juice would come to us. The Crazy Koo Koo Church I used to attend out here put a spin on it, where you would hold the plate for the person on your left, as though you were serving them. Then they’d take the plate, and serve the person next to them, and so forth.

There was some point in my church back home where they shifted from bread to some nasty tasting thing. I asked Miss Eunice what it was, she said some kind of unleavened pie crust. I said it’s gross and it brings whole new meaning to the standard phrase “This is my body, take and eat of me.” Miss Eunice said she preferred to think of the volunteers who selflessly volunteered their time to cut the gross tasting unleavened pie crust into tiny tiny parts for everyone to have during communion. Which is why Miss Eunice is going to heaven, and I am not, ho ho ho.

But in my current church, they have pairs of people stationed at the end of the aisles, and you have to go to them. One person holds the plate of pita bread, and you tear off a piece, and shift over to the other person holding the cup of grape juice, dip it and go.

And I kind of dig it. Sure, there’s the hilarious crush of people that flood the aisles as soon as they give the invitation to come on down, and the awkward dance of people maneuvering do I have to go all the way to the end of the line if I’m in the fourth row? Will someone let me cut in front of them? Is that considered less than holy if I do?

But I find myself digging it not because of the Tear and Dip ritual itself. But I connect with the fact that here we all are, a congregation of (two hundred? Three hundred? Is it a holiday weekend?) And we’re all lining up to receive communication. The fact that we’re lining up, that we’re patiently waiting, maneuvering with the apologetic smiles, it’s as physical of a declaration as you can get that yes, I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. And I’m in a huge line of other people that believe it too. And it runs the gamut from a silver haired grandmother in pearls to Mr. Rocker in front of me. We have sundresses, tattoos winking from the back of necks and shirtsleeves (on both men and women.) khakis, hipster satin vests, and me wearing the same old boring wardrobe as I ever do (jeans, black shirt, black boots.) And we’re all here, believing in Jesus, and waiting our turn.

Mr. Rocker, by the way, was ever so helpful in pointing out where I was when Tulip, Pastor For The Day said in the middle of the sermon, “Is Amy (The Writer) here today? Where is she?” Tulip’s squinting under the lights, searching the crowd for me. Damned if I’m gonna yell out where I am, Tulip’s gonna make me recite Scripture or something. So I raise my hand, and if she can’t see it, oh well. But Mr. Rocker sees it because he’s sitting behind me (yes, he was in front of me during communion, he’s behind me now), so he helpfully yells “OVER HERE!”

Then Tulip announces to the congregation that “Amy (The Writer) told me yesterday that she’s reading through the Bible and she’s up to Jeremiah. We all need to take note from her.”

Oh GAWD. No we don’t. Don’t ever use me as an example, folks. Just because I’m reading the Bible straight through doesn’t mean I’m understanding any of it. I have to make connections to Eeyore, The Smiths, and Friday the 13th Part 2 in order to make it make sense to me. I’m the worst example in the world. Don’t try this at home.

And I was all excited that I had finally gotten out of Isaiah, and into Jeremiah, and then the chronological Bible sent me back to the pancake flipping duo of 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles this morning. Great.

I’m not telling Tulip that.

1 comment:

Allison said...

Gotta love communion. :)

And I think you're too hard on yourself -- you're reading!

I read 2 Chronicles for the first time in my life this fall, and I can't believe I waited this long -- it's awesome, and I'm excited to hear what you think when you finish. But the commentary in my student Bible was definitely helpful.