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Friday, September 25, 2009

Lord's Supper abberations, part 2

Whenever I tell that story (see below) about the lady who stole the wine, I am reminded of another true story of an anomaly in the administration of the Lord's Supper over which again I was presiding.

It must have been in the late 70s while I was yet ministering in Modesto. Dan Morse was trying to plant an OPC work in the city of Sacramento, and for some reason I was available to supply for him when he was out of town. I think I had a minister in our congregation in Modesto by the name of Bill Fredericks. He probably supplied the pulpit in Modesto so I could minister to the new chapel in Sacramento.

Anyway, Pastor Morse had his congregation trained to expect the Lord's Supper every week. He sought to give more people ownership of the worship service by having them rotate the responsibility of bringing a bottle of wine for the Lord's Supper. They even used a common cup and tore the bread by hand. It was very interesting and quaint as an attempt at feeling like the original disciples. The cup was an ornate chalice which I was taught to rotate slightly after each communicant took a sip. As I rotated the brim of the cup I would wipe it with a clean napkin which I carried along the aisle for the purpose. Of course when you study the matter you would realize that it doesn't take that many communicants to cover the circumference of the chalice and begin to repeat using the same surface someone before had touched with his lips. But we used wine, so the theory is that the alcohol would kill the germs. If you are tempted to feel creepy in spite of these safeguards, then you must fall back on your trust in the ability of a sovereign God to protect you from whatever bacilli were remaining on the brim of that cup. Actually the service went rather smoothly, and I thought it was a more intimate communion when it was done like this.

The second time I filled in for Pastor Morse we were a trifle nervous because the lady who was scheduled to bring the wine had not yet appeared, and it was less than 10 minutes before the service was to begin. Bur relief broke out when she came in the door and handed me a bottle shaped brown bag. I took it to the chalice, pulled out the wine, and stopped motionless for a brief moment. She had brought apricot wine! Here we were eating torn pieces of bread and drinking from a common cup because it seemed so authentic--but then the whole mood was ruined because we were not using "the fruit of the vine". Of course the only thing to do (at that hour) was to pour the apricot wine into the chalice and proceed with the service as though nothing was amiss. I'm sure the service was only ruined for me. I've been told of hippies who used coke and french fries. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart, and I know this lady meant no disrespect by substituting apricot wine for the more bloody fruit.

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