Thursday, February 10, 2011

Small Epiphanies - an occasional series

Last Sunday, being the 1st in the month, featured its usual pattern of extremes in ministry. Thanks to my splendid curates I wasn't involved in the BCP "bookends" that usuall frame the day (an early Communion and a mid-afternoon Evensong up the hill) but this didn't mean I avoided the contrasts. You see, the morning featured the happy mayhem of an All Age Eucharist while the afternoon saw our monthly visit to the nursing home housed in the old vicarage, where we offer a Communion service in the day room for the mildly confused.
Since my splendid Reader started to join me, this has felt a far more comfortable experience. Though I've tried to make the liturgy both short and majoring on prayers and responses that are likely to have been familiar once, I very rarely feel that the congregation are in any way on board, and there was something very disconcerting about the schizophrenic dialogue that had me responding to my
"The Lord be with you" with the expected "And also with you"!
Now, though there may be just one voice answering me, we are at least in conversation once more - and it's also good to have someone else to encourage the congregation to actually consume the wafer and wine that we offer them. It's always a little hazardous and I find myself re-evaluating my theology of Eucharist very rapidly from time to time, as one especially absent lady has been known to remove the host from her mouth for a closer look and then leave it sitting on her knee - a definite challenge for conventional catholic theology!
Nearly every month as M and I embark on our lonely voyage through the liturgy I wonder what on earth we are doing...whether it would be better to bring a CD player and have a hymn sandwich...whether we are imposing Communion on those too frail and confused to stay away.
But last week, during a supervision with the curates, the Herring of Christ (TM) said something that has stayed with me. Since his priesting he has found that when giving people the host, he cannot help doing so with a little extra pressure, so that his hands emphasise the amazing words "The Body of Christ".
This...THIS fragment of unleavened bread...this morsel of holiness...is the gift that I bring you. Know the full weight and wonder of it.
I've been thinking of this as I've communicated through the week and at the nursing home on Sunday, as I read the Post Communion prayer, it all made glorious sense.
Where minds fail, sight, touch, taste can do their work

"God of truth, we have seen with our eyes
And touched with our hands the bread of life.
Strengthen our faith that we may grow in love for you
And for each other
Through Jesus Christ our Lord"

6 comments:

Sally said...

love it- taste and touch...just love it...

Still Breathing said...

I think we have got so accustomed to the spoken word (including song) that we forget that The Word can be present in so many other ways: touch, smell, art etc etc

Mary Beth said...

this is splendid. I agree that the grace of the sacrament may not be apparent to those who give it (due to the fogginess of the recipients) but no way to possibly know. :)

And, as you SB said, so many other senses hang on and reach people who may seem lost. Thanks be that you do this. I hope someone like you will be there for me when/if I'm in such a state.

...paul said...

Thanks for this Kathryn. Your timing is impeccable. You've posted this on the same day as I've been asked to do something I was unsure about. It has helped me to reach a decision.

christinelaennec said...

A wonderful post, thank you.

Martyn - Being Free said...

Lovely. Thank you.