An amazing gift

Yesterday morning was my first time serving the chalice at my parish.  I had served in this ministry for years at my previous two parishes, but had let a year go by before signing up for it here.  That part is kind of weird, because I signed right up to take communion to those who can’t make it to church, but I knew I wasn’t ready to serve the chalice at Sunday worship again yet.  Of course, yesterday, I couldn’t remember why I’d waited so long.  It is so wonderful to serve all of God’s children, my brothers and sisters in faith.

When I got to church yesterday, I picked up a bulletin and then headed to the choir room to put on my black cassock and white cotta.  I flipped to the “worship leader” section and went “Huh” because my name wasn’t there.  I was sure it was my week to serve; I’d gotten the reminder phone call; it was on my calendar.  So I headed to the office wing to look for a ministry schedule to confirm.  I didn’t find one, but I did bump into our clergy.  Our priest said, “Oh!  I’m glad to see you!  Which side of the altar are you going to stand on today?  Could you stand on the right?”  I smiled and showed her the bulletin, explaining my confusion, and we quickly agreed that yes, it was my week to serve, and the names there were from last Sunday.  And she explained the situation to me.  There is a family in our parish who has two twin boys, about a year and a half old, and their mom wanted them to receive the elements in both kinds.  Our priest had arranged for a small spoon to be at the altar, and asked me to dip the spoon into the wine to pick up a drop – not an entire spoonful! – and dip it into each child’s mouth, wiping the spoon on the purificator between boys (much to the horror of our altar guild chair).

The family was one of the last to come forward to receive, and the boys are little darlings.  The father came up to me, holding one child in his arms.  I dipped the little silver spoon and offered the drop of wine to the boy, who opened his mouth without any question and accepted the wine.  He didn’t make a face or cry or scream, just accepted the gift of Christ’s blood with that wonderful infant solemnity.  He knew he was being fed, even if he didn’t know exactly with what.  But you know what?  How many of us really know what we are being fed with at the eucharist?  And if it is always the same thing, week after week, year after year?  I certainly don’t want to limit God by assuming that this meal at God’s Table must feed me the same way now that it did two years ago or five or ten or twenty.

So I served the wine to the boy’s father, who moved down the aisle with him.  The mother came to me, holding the other boy.  Again, I dipped the spoon and offered him the drop of wine.  Again, he opened his mouth in acceptance, and swallowed it.  I smiled at him, and he smiled back at me.  Then his mom took his hand and showed him how to cross himself, and he grinned and giggled in delight.  This boy, too, was fed with the Body and Blood.  I served the mother as he watched, knowing he had partaken of the same meal.

After the last few people partook of the Feast, I returned to the altar with my chalice and purificator, smiling widely at the blessing and gift I had just been given.  These tiny boys – they are just as much part of the Body of Christ as I am, as you are, as our priest is – and they are every bit as precious and unique and wonderful and scandalously beloved by God as anyone else here.  And yesterday morning, they knew this, too.

May God bless you today, you beloved child of God.  May you approach the Table with wide-eyed, solemn openness as these two boys do.  May you willingly receive the gifts that God gives us, even when they have to be spooned into your mouth as droplets of wine.  And may you know how completely, perfectly, scandalously you are loved.

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