Tuesday, October 03, 2006

So the drama of St David's Chapel continues, now focussed on the movable altar rail which is put in place on Sundays so that those who wish to kneel to receive Communion can do so, but is generally out of the way during the week.
Having arranged the chairs in a welcoming circle and carpetted the tiled floor, the Chapel feels a very different place,- one in which, for me at least, prayer is easy and comfortable even on days when I'm struggling. But, because the altar rail is still there (albeit in truncated form) a silent running-battle has developed between those who wish to retain it for every service, and those who would cheerfully see it vanish without trace. So it's uncertain when you emerge from the vestry quite what you'll find...faintly ludicrous, but very St M's.

Last time I attended the Mothers' Union corporate Communion, I was assured that the ladies much preferred to have the rail in place- but they then confounded my informant by (all bar one) electing to stand to receive. Today was my turn to preside for this service, and I semi-deliberately kept out the way before the service so that I could not be drawn into impassioned debates on the subject.
And, when it came to the distribution they all stood in a semi circle and the sense of a gathered community of the people of God was overwhelming...My one regret is that I didn't invite them to communicate each other. I know it would have been right today.
During the intercessions, the impact of the shootings in American schools was very much on my heart.
To come home to these words from the Henri Nouwen Society was simply wonderful; they articulated some of the connections I'd been experiencing this morning.

When we gather around the table and eat from the same loaf and drink from the same cup, we are most vulnerable to one another. We cannot have a meal together in peace with guns hanging over our shoulders and pistols attached to our belts. When we break bread together we leave our arms - whether they are physical or mental - at the door and enter into a place of mutual vulnerability and trust.

The beauty of the Eucharist is precisely that it is the place where a vulnerable God invites vulnerable people to come together in a peaceful meal. When we break bread and give it to each other, fear vanishes and God becomes very close


Songbird said...

I'm glad it happened that way, and I'm so appreciative of the quote from Henri Nouwen.

Freedom Bound said...

I was assured that the ladies much preferred to have the rail in place

It's amazing in church life how often "they" or "everyone" actually means "I" ......

ron said...

He is so much a God of profound grace, humanity and God at table, the breaking of bread and He floods into the moment...and the truth of community is known.

Now the rail, perhaps cut it up, give everyone a piece. Those who want the rail can bring it with them the next time...those that don't can leave it at home.

St. Casserole said...

Thanks for the Nouwen quote.