Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Despite the Heat It'll Be All Right

Church Door #2
Church doors on E. 22nd Street

It was hot (h-o-t) at church on Sunday. Well, it was hot everywhere in the city, but it seemed especially so in the un-airconditioned auditorium where my church meets. As I had to be there early (to help set up) and stay a little bit afterwards (to help break down), it made for a very sticky 2.5 hours. I picked a seat strategically near a fan and sipped on iced coffee during the sermon. I have summer strategies, you see.

During the passing of the peace (mid-service) I stood in a group of four, as we talked idly about the heat and fanned ourselves with our church bulletins. I always feel very “southern lady” when I fan myself with a church bulletin.

And I am always reminded of that line from To Kill A Mockingbird, comparing southern ladies in the summer to “soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.” I don’t know what it is about that line, but it’s been lodged in my brain since seventh-grade English class. I guess it just paints a good and true picture. (Also, I love alliteration.)

Towards the end of the service it was time to take communion, so I peeled myself off my chair and went forward to help serve. Our church is small, so I know a fair percentage of peoples' names. As people came forward, I extended the communion cup towards them, personalizing the offering when I could: "Lou, the blood of Christ, shed for you." and "Sue, the blood of Christ, shed for you." and so on. Extend the cup, let them drink, receive the cup back, repeat.

After awhile, Max approached. I would say that he 'walked,' but Max never seems to just 'walk.' He is a singer and a dancer and an artist - he ‘moves,’ he is ‘in motion,’ but he never just ‘walks.’

After receiving the communion bread first, he moved in front of me. I extended the cup towards him and said, "Max, the blood of Christ, shed for you."

He took the cup from me, and paused. "Really?" he asked.

I wasn’t expecting a question. I’ve never before gotten a question when serving communion. Just extend, drink, receive, repeat. But Max wasn’t on auto-pilot on that sticky hot Sunday. He may have been in motion, but he wasn’t just going through the motions. I had said weighty words, and he was about to do a weighty thing, this taking of communion. So he paused and asked that important question.

And I smiled and answered, "Yes, really."

Because - yes. Really. The blood of Christ, shed for you.

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