Sunday, April 09, 2006

Palm Sunday 2: in the church

So we wound our way round the block and into church, where the elderly, infirm or plain embarassed were awaiting us, and the service proper got under way. We had 2 miniscule acolytes on duty, who were having a lovely time fencing with their palm branches at every opportunity, and providing entertainment for all and sundry. It's probably just as well that they were out of sight when we got to the dramatised Passion Gospel,in which I got to read the part of Jesus. To say this was mind-blowing, in a church where the “priest as icon of Christ” argument has been used so often to limit women’s ministry, would be a serious understatement. To move from that Gospel to say the Eucharistic prayer emphasised for me what a huge journey so many people have made. It’s sad that too often I can only see those who still can’t accept my priesthood, when there are dozens who welcome and affirm it, bless them. For a few months I’d been vaguely paranoid as communicant numbers have been slightly, but unmistakably, down when I’m celebrating, and I wondered just who the silent objectors might be. Today suggested that perhaps WonderfulVicar has been right in his assertion that it was just an unhappy co-incidence that a dozen people happened not to be there on “my” Sundays. I know it’s not about numbers, but it’s still comforting not to feel that people are absenting themselves from the Sacrament because of me…Certainly today people turned out in force, with more there than on Christmas Eve.In fact, despite breaking up the last 10 wafers into quarters, I was still one short at the high altar, which was not such a good feeling. It’s wonderful being a distributor of God’s grace most of the time, but when my inability to count makes that grace appear limited…Oh dear :-(
I felt uncomfortably symbolic of all the ways that the church has impeded the very relationship with God that we exist to facilitate…But then I realised that there was still plenty of wine, and the person concerned was totally happy to receive under one kind only…and I heard God laughing gently as he pointed out that I don’t have to be the one doing the facilitating! Sometimes I'm a distressingly slow learner.

5 comments:

Songbird said...

How lovely to have a crowd today, so fitting. (((Kathryn)))

hencity said...

glad it was so good. Am I the only one who consecrates additional wafers/wine in the middle of the distribution now... we are not called to be bean-counters or even head-counters - after all King David got into trouble for takingh a census!

Kathryn said...

Had stern lecture from +M before priesting about the need to use the whole Eucharistic prayer if the need to reconsecrate arose...and tbh just couldn't face it, when I realised we were running short. Do you do the whole thing, or just the traditional shorter chunk? Might seriously consider that, I think (though yesterday if the marshalls had been awake, all would have been well, as there is always the contents of the aumbry, if people are diverted to the Chapel altar)

Sophia said...

Kathryn,

I was a bit confused about running out of wafers - I thought, "what about the reserve Sacrament?" I'm used to having the tabernacle right there so the priest, deacpn, or eucharistic ministers can just get what's needed. Is this uncommon in the UK?

Anyway, sounds like a fabulous day regardless of little glitches! I always enjoy your tales of parish life.

:-)

Dr Moose said...

I've never run out of wafers, not due to my ability to count, but normally due to very small congregations (at "home"), assistance when "away" and when that is lacking just consecrating too many.

Of course, another way out of the "one short" predicament, would, if your theology allowed it, to be get into the habit of receiving last. Serve the feast to the folks and then take your portion, and if you can bear to miss it if you're short then you need not worry about how much/little of the Eucharistic Prayer should be said (something else I've never had to do!)