Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Communion

Computer probs plague our household this week.

I drove to church on Sunday not sure what to expect. It’s not that I know what to expect any Sunday because I never do. General expectations may come to mind but the "what will happen today" expectations are unknown. I knew we were celebrating the Lord’s Supper but I was unsure if the Altar Guild of One remembered so I stopped to get po-boy bread and a four pack of tiny Welch’s cans.

I’ve prepared the sacrament once for a congregation. Churches are so good at having things ready that I’ve fixed the cups and trays one time. Sunday I was unsure about the planning so I carried my own supplies as well as my lil’ communion kit. The kit is a small black case with a plastic bottle for grape juice and box for bread along with disposable cups and a little plate. I hoped to take the sacrament to a family of shut-ins.
Earlier in the week I read again the communion information from our Directory of Worship. Bread for the sacrament may be what is appropriate locally. If wine is served then grape juice should be provided so that people have a choice. Disposal of the elements after the sacrament is to be respectful and what the Session agrees upon. Order of service for the sacrament is outlined with scripture cites. The D of W has a great deal more information about the sacrament.

The drive to church showed more signs of spring with wild trees blooming, fields becoming green and the roadside weeds blooming. It is the loveliest of drives. Hardly any traffic on an early Sunday morning so one can browse the fields and pastures to see cattle, sheep and goats along with fields of green. The road follows a canopy of trees for several miles so that the light and shadows in early morning are so beautiful.

I arrived to find the Lord’s Supper ready. Beautifully ready. The Altar Guild uses real linen cloths ironed to perfection. Fresh flowers from her yard were arranged in a vase for the pedestal.

I wish that I’d been ready. I was the hold up. My sermon was the pits. I have been muddled for the past couple of weeks and that muddling has affected my sermons. Proof of this was shown in the congregation’s faces and in my own regret on the drive back home. What’s the problem? The Gospel texts have been very long for the past weeks. Verses and verses and verses. I’ve had two Sundays of doing more teaching than preaching. Ask me later what the difference is. I studied the texts to make sure I understood, as best I could, what was going on and then couldn’t seem to condense my thoughts or focus on one verse or another. Just all of the verses which makes for poor preaching when long texts are used. I’m not a verse by verse preacher because I’m not a verse by verse hearer. The tale of the whole interests me, not piece by piece.

I’m facing another long Gospel text for Sunday. The story of Lazarus in John 11:1-45. I am considering using v.35 " Jesus began to weep"(NRSV) as my focal point but it’s Wednesday morning and the process/study/exegesis is not finished enough to know yet.

Focus, Rev. Mrs. Casserole. Focus!

8 comments:

Songbird said...

I try to resist teaching these long stories and just tell a story of my own, sort of riff off the text. But I agree, it's very hard to know what to choose when there is so much available. (And when you wonder if anyone is actually still listening after you've finished reading 45 verses of story in John's somewhat repetitive style.)
I'm working on a play for Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Let's just say I've written the end, but not the beginning, and time is running out...

reverendmother said...

I took a great workshop in December on biblical storytelling, and we had to prepare some of these John texts for the workshop. They are indeed looooong. I wonder if for these long texts, could preachers just learn the text by heart (biblical storytelling style), tell them well, without hurrying, and just let them preach? Especially on a communion Sunday, when it's the sacrament that does the real proclamation anyway.

I think that many congregations had that look. My head of staff read the entire text, then she preached a 17 minute sermon. THEN we had communion. Fatigue...

PPB said...

You're telling ME the scripture was long??? I discovered on Sunday that I had to READ it in addition to PREACH it. It went on forever!!! I'd have been tempted to just put it in the building and go get some water while they read it to themselves. So your peeps are having communion again. Sounds like you make up in style for frequency. When I took polity, I remember my teacher saying that the B of W says we must have communion 4 times a year---whether we need it or not!!

the reverend mommy said...

Yep. Long. We've been doing plays every Sunday and just picking through the verses for what to preach. I get to be Mary this week -- they wouldn't let me be Lazarus.... I did get some of that Deer Musk stuff that hunters around here wear. It makes you smell like something that's been dead for a while. It would add authenticity to the line "But Lord he stinketh."

St. Casserole said...

Calvin advocated weekly celebration of the the Lord's Supper. First Sunday of the month is working for us, so far.

PPB said...

I'm sorry. I thought it was your blog where I read of a church that did it only 4 times annually. My bad. Go JC. Not Jesus, the other JC

PPB said...

I'm posting just because--at long last--I can! (Of course comments get fixed about 10 seconds after I got haloscan!)

Marie said...

Yep, really long. In the Episcopal church, we stand for the Gospel reading and for 2 or the weeks in a row, the Rev has just said, "Sit down folks, this is a long one." And we do Eucharist every Sunday. (I wouldn't know how to live without it.) Still, our services haven't been much longer than normal. (Which is over an hour.) One of the things that's making our readings seem really fresh is that the Rev is using The Message translation. LOVE it. Really makes you think.