Posted tagged ‘ritual’

Apple Juice and Glazed Communion

May 25, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                May 25, 2015

                                     

There were always a few yawns when the men arrived for the 7:30 Saturday Men’s Bible Study group. Ten guys sat around the table, each slurping their first cup of coffee of the day. This was an important part of each man’s weekly schedule. It was where they unloaded, laughed deeply, and uninhibitedly questioned life.

Confidentiality was a valued element of this group. Struggles stayed here. Frustrations didn’t get retold to spouses and girlfriends.

“My brother is considering leaving his wife!” groaned Jimmy.

“Why’s that, Jimmy?”

“He thinks she’s having an on-line affair with some guy that she knew back in high school.”

“Is he assuming, or does he know for sure?”

“I think he’s assuming, but their marriage has been as rocky as Pike’s Peak for some time now. What do I tell him? I can’t condone his walking out on her, but I see the hurt in his eyes every time we talk about it.”

A wise octogenarian named Clarence stroked his silver beard and slowly began to speak. “Jimmy, tell your brother to not do anything…not make any decision for a month. We will commit as a group to pray daily for him, and even more than him, his wife for the coming thirty days. Someone once said that “decisions made in haste lead to a bad taste.”

“I think that someone was you, Clarence,” pointed out another elder of the group named Fred.

Jimmy looked around the table and said “I really appreciate it, fellas’!”

The youngest member of the group, a twenty-something named Matt, spoke up. “A good friend of mine from high school just found out he has advanced cancer.”

Moans and grimaces around the table displayed the group empathy for Matt. Most of them had friends who battled cancer- some won, some lost.

“Have you talked to him, Matt?” asked Steve, a balding forty year old.

“Yes, he’s pretty scared! I told him that we’d be praying for him. He’s not a follower of Jesus, but this has given me some opportunity to talk to him about life and death, hope and faith.”

Steve voiced the group’s commitment to pray for him, and for Matt as he walked alongside his friend.

“This group means a lot to me!” The voice was that of a recently-retired businessman named Daniel, and it was filled with emotion. “I look forward to this every week. Most weeks it’s my highlight. Talking to you guys, especially when I’m dealing with no news from my son from Africa.” Daniel’s youngest son, Nate, was in the midst of a nine-month deployment to a troubled part of Africa.

Clarence, who was sitting next to Daniel, put his hand on his shoulder for a few moments. “We’re in this together, Daniel!”

There was a sacred silence around the table. For a few moments no one stirred or even took a sip of coffee. They sat as a brotherhood.

“Do you know what we should do?” Steve suddenly asked.

“Take a trip to Hawaii and you pick up the tab?” suggested Randy, who was the comedian of the group.

“No…we should share communion together.”

“It’s not the first Sunday of the month, Steve!”

“I don’t think the scriptures say anything about first Sunday communion. That’s just something we created for some reason. No…it seems like it says something in the Bible about having communion whenever to come together…or something like that.”

“That’s not blasphemous, is it?” asked Matt.

“What?”

“To have communion when it’s not even in the sanctuary?”

“Jesus had it in the upper room, Matt.”

Randy spoke up again. “But there’s no grape juice! And you know without a doubt that there’s no wine in this church!”

“Can we pray over water and ask God to change it into wine?”

“Or why can’t we just use apple juice?” suggested Jimmy. Sometimes a question got asked in this group that no one had an answer for. Each man pondered.

“We can,” Clarence affirmed.

“Are you sure, Clarence? Do you think the pope would say it’s okay?”

Randy lightened the moment. “Unless I missed the memo, I don’t think this group turned Catholic.”

“We can…and we will share communion. Do we have a donut left?”

“One glazed!”

“Cut it up in ten pieces. Someone get some of those kid’s size paper cups for the juice and let’s do it.”

There was a hustle of activity as different guys got the substitute elements and prepared the table. Clarence led them through it. The glazed donut had a holy taste to it, not on the tongue, but rather to the soul. After sipping the apple juice Clarence led them in a prayer for Jimmy’s brother and sister-in-law, Matt’s friend with cancer, and for each other. They held hands firmly and with commitment and prayed like the King of Kings himself was sitting at the table with them.

“You don’t think Pastor Bob will be upset by this, do you?” asked Randy.

“Yes, he will be!” responded Steve.

“Really?”

“Yes, he will be upset that he wasn’t here to be a part of this!”

Randy summed it up. “You snooze, you lose!”

 

Springing Hope

September 4, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                              September 4, 2012

Carol and I went to see “Hope Springs” last night. I saw a couple of aunts and uncles from my past in it. It was amusing…and too close to home! It made me ask the uncomfortable question “Is that us?”

If you haven’t seen the movie it is about a couple who have been married for 31 years. They have become…predictable…and emotionally distant even though they live in the same house. It’s the residue of time and routine that have swallowed up their love. The love is there, but it takes an incredible amount of guided effort to rediscover it.

Enough of the plot. I chuckled a lot during the film because I saw people that have been a part of my journey and upraising, but also I saw myself.

There are weeks that come and go as unsurprising as a farm tractor cultivating a corn field row by row. A surprise might be brussel sprouts at dinner, or, this year, a cool day in the summer.

But…I have to say this…there is also some comfort in the predictability. It is comforting to know that some things don’t change. Carol tells me that my color selection in what I’m wearing is not good. She also knows that Saturday nights are usually restricted times as I struggle with finishing up the Sunday sermon. I know that she enjoys playing “Spades” on-line. A pause in a phone conversation with her is a hint that she is in the midst of a tight game. She knows that I snore and has the freedom to kick me in the middle of the night. Bruises on my body are not a sign of spousal abuse, but rather a night of deep sleep and kicks with more effort behind them. One of us often ends up in the middle bedroom because of restlessness, snoring, intestinal issues, back pain, or trying to finish a book before sleep enters the picture. I am moved by how she engages and cares for kids. She is thrilled by former players that I’ve coached who come up to me in a store, or on the street, and initiate a conversation.

There is a routine in our lives that is good, even as we search for new opportunities. This summer we took a two day vacation. I know…I know…two days…ooo, big spender! But it was a great two days. We went to Vail and just relaxed, walked, explored, rested, ate, slept. Two days was too short, but it was good!

And then it was back to our routine.

We have a good life, a blessed life! It is filled with random moments of the touch of God, the soothing of our souls.

It’s things like our grand-daughter, Reagan, chasing our frazzled cat, Princess Malibu, around the house like a greased watermelon that is never quiet in the grasp. It’s taking Carol with me whenever I have clothes to buy, or never questioning the hint of going with her because dress shirts are on sale at Dilliards’s. It’s being comfortable with the fact that “if it’s cooked on the grill” it’s my job, and if it’s cooked in the oven it’s her domain. It’s helping her step down from the terraced garden in our backyard. It’s telling her what is going on in a ball game because her eyesight is not good.

I suppose you could say that there is a rhythm in our routine, a sense of feeling so fortunate in the midst of all the ways we have been blessed.

I know that I am not James Bond, but I also want to be a little bit to the left of my dearly departed Uncle Milliard.

A little adventure while I stand watering the front yard.

Tonight I’m going to take my bride of thirty-three years for a walk.

Maybe we’ll even hold hands…as we’re in the crosswalk!