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September 01, 2011

communion miracles

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And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

I sat in Lighthouse Baptist Church, staring down at the small piece of bread in my right hand, somehow oblivious to anything around me.

Where have I came from? What have I done? What am I to do with the days I've been granted? In light of the one who offered sinners grace, called us his friend, laid down his life so that we may live this life to the full? 

And we will live again.

When did I ever start buying into this impossible math? How did I begin to comprehend the story where one person offers free rescue to the whole ship of fools? 

There was the time when I decided that sitting still for 55 minutes was too much for God to ask of a 10-year old. So I signed up to be an alter boy at our little church in the woods of Chestnut Ridge. 

Ah, free to move. For God, of course.

One of my responsibilities was to help smooth out one of the most challenging priestly demands: estimating how many wafers to consecrate during the rite of communion. Too few leaves some parishioners out of luck. Too many leaves the priest with a...substantial problem. You can't just toss the transubstantiated body of Jesus out for the squirrels or hide it in the trash under random donut fragments.

With communion underway, the parishoners filed up to the priest. Another alter boy and I guarded close by to catch any wafers fumbled toward the floor. We maintained the athletic ready position, dreaming of the chance to make a diving save. Sadly, that never happened.

The alter boys and priest were always the last to receive communion. I'd rate the priests aptitude after the congregation, the ushers, the organist, and finally the small choir headed back to their seats. I often received a halved wafer and initially felt slighted when it was a measly quarter. 

I once assisted a "substitute" priest who grossly overestimated wafer requirments for the day. It was just the three of us left, looking down on about 25 wafers strewn across the gold plate. He paused, stacked around ten of them up like poker chips, smashed them together ala Dagwood Bumstead, and stashed them into my mouth.

The stack expanded, clung to everything. I worked on that stack for the remainder of mass, chiseling an index finger toward the roof of my mouf. I had just finished my communion by the time dad met me to walk to the car. He said that I should be extra holy, but I mostly felt thirsty.

Those years of up-close communion taught me some things about the math of God. I began to appreciate that it counted the same whether I was called to a quarter wafer or ten. I saw the possibility that it really is best to give and to receive no more or less than your portion. Doing something for God felt good, was good, even when it meant stuffing down communion wafers. 

These days I'm slightly better at sitting. Slightly. Instead of trying to determine the right way to do communion and exactly how the body of Jesus is involved, I'm attempting simple thankfulness for my daily quarter and 10-stacks. 

Ah, the peace. I'm finding that a miracle certainly does take place by moving in obedience and by being still, remembering in thankfulness.

"Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle." 

-Ann Voskamp

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Ann Kroeker said...

I'm sort of sliding my tongue around the roof of my mouth ("mouf") right now, thinking of that wad of wafers.

It's so easy to think like a kid, or an American, that more = better.

May I instead, as you say, willingly accept my stack of ten, or my single...or my quarter wafer in life.

L.L. Barkat said...

Lol, on the stack of wafers! Goodness :)

On a different note, I'm sorry that 'God in the Yard' has scared you. It's really set up just to be read if that's what a person wishes to do. No exercises required :)

Hey, I started doing squat thrusts. Proud of me? :)

Duane Scott said...

Oh, you had me laughing.

I'm gonna share this on my site.

This needs to be read.

i LOVE your closing thought.

Bob Gorinski said...

I've been away for a while. Thanks folks!