We have been taught different table manners. Some of us grew up with strict rules around how to hold silverware or set the table or how to chew. Others of us learned through observation and still others of us have yet to learn any table manners! I cringe every time I think of a meal I shared with my Czech friend in Prague. I learned later in the evening that every time I cut my steak with my fork (I hadn’t learning the art of eating with a knife), the table would shake. And so every time I was about to cut the family would warn enough other in their native tongue (unknown by me), “Ruth is about to cut her steak!” They would then reach for their wine glasses so that they wouldn’t spill when the table shook. Lesson learned.
Gathering at the Lord’s Table feels just as awkward at times. How do we set the table? How do we pass out the elements? What elements should we even use? Gluten free? Juice or wine? And do we say something as people approach us? And then there are the questions about receiving the elements. Do I wait to be handed the bread or do I reach for the bread? What if I didn’t wash my hands? What if I drop the bread? Or, as happened during one service I attended at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, what if a bird flies into the sanctuary and starts eating the bread while the choir is singing the communion anthem?
At Rainbow we gather at the Lord’s Table the first Sunday of every month (I’ll write another post in the future about why this is). You’d think this would be frequent enough to have the sharing of communion figured out- down to a science. Not so. That is because gathering at this common table with a common loaf and cup isn’t a science. It is about sharing together and communing with one another and with God and like life, this can feel messy and awkward at times.
This is all to say that this Sunday, March 2, we will be invited to the table in a slightly different manner. Or as Rosi put it, the table will have a few new flavors this Sunday! We are going to have what we’re calling a choral communion service. It will have some Latin and Spanish flavors, with a touch of Mennonite 🙂
It will most certainly have a different feel than last Sunday. After all, we had a duck fly into the sanctuary to wish some folks a happy birthday.
We could all stand to think about our table manners and flavors from time to time. I have a feeling this Sunday might be one of those times. I’m counting on it.