Monday, 25 June 2007

Isaiah and the Matzo Solution

Down with a nasty cold, the worst of it striking me out from attending church. With the constant rhythm of the rain, sleeping was my greatest activity for peace and healing – rest for tonight will hopefully not be so elusive.

I hate it when I miss out on the fellowship of corporate worship, as I had to this past Sunday morning. But my dear love went, making apologies for me, and came home with some bits and bobs about what I missed. Of course, the day would be one of the Sundays our vicar was here to administer communion.

Usually, he tears off small bites of probably-not-too-freshly-baked white bread rolls from Sainsbury’s. One Sunday, he dropped a bite on the altar carpet, but with ecclesiastical speed applied the 5-second rule, and placed the morsel in my cupped hands before my eyes could protest.

‘The body of Christ, pinched off, wadded up, and dropped for your sins’.

And today, for the first time in months, wouldn’t you know he actually used wafers?!? Exciting stuff always happens when I can’t be at church.

The sacramental element representing Christ’s body used to be much blander where I came from. The church tradition of my childhood strictly forbade anything but Matzo Crackers – the very plain white crackly kind. Absolutely no salt, totally unleavened -- one large cracker, passed down the pew on a silver platter to be shared amongst at least 20 congregants (all those germs, and they complained about One Cuppers?). Our silent sacred hopes for Eucharistic reflection rudely interrupted by the sound of small high-pitched explosions of dried Matzos being cracked up into tiny fragments all over the sanctuary before being ingested and washed down with a thimbleful of the next element passed down the pews, Welch’s grape juice. Strewth! Religious teetotallers don’t do alcohol for church.

I'd like to know: Did Jesus go desperately hunting for Manischewitz just prior to the Last Supper? How many times did I wish he could be with us to turn that 6-month old vile Welch’s into some mighty fine wine?

When I got liberal I made my own communion bread. But after so many moves in my life, I’ve lost the recipe!! (Robyn, if you’re reading this and still have that recipe – you know the one that uses wheat flour, honey, and real butter – could you kindly post it in the comments section?)

This reminds me of all the flap and nonsensical debates about the spiritual use of women in worship and leadership, and the a cappella VS singing-with-instruments issues. But I won’t go there tonight. My head is still fully congested and can barely get around my pillow.

I will mention the blurb that caught my eye in our Weekly Benefice Leaflet that my dear one brought home after church. Our Old Testament Reading in worship was from Isaiah 65.1-9, and the blurb reads:

Isaiah tells his people that they have overlaid the true worship of God with many worthless and corrupt practices and rituals. This will make their healing all the more painful and costly.

The things I have let get in my way, and the obstacles I have set up for others, keeps healing at a great distance. The lesson I learned in last week’s sermon on forgiveness also adds into this one. In my spiritual quest to grow in relationship to God, I discover that holiness and wholeness are directly related. To become more Christ-like and explore and adapt to the holy space of his presence within me: that's the way to complete wholeness. My flaws, my sins, go through a healing process as I forgive those who have caused me pain, and as forgiveness is graciously extended to me (or even as I forgive myself).

Which brings me back to today’s blurb and thoughts from Isaiah 65.1-9. Allowing issues to seep into the sacred space of my relationship with Christ – or practices and rituals which might make me feel better and more comfortable – only serves to corrupt the healing process.

So, if the vicar doesn’t have time to make his own fresh communion bread, that’s okay. I’ll share my recipe with him. If I can find it...

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