Sunday, February 19, 2017

Some things never change...

I can still remember being excited for the first times I helped to pass the sacrament in my LDS ward growing up.  I'd get all dressed up, be excited to participate, and I can recall once even crying when we didn't make it to church on time for me to participate in my assignment.  I recall taking a copy of one of the hand drawn instruction maps showing where we all were supposed to walk and deciding I could do better.  Even though I held no special position of responsibility to take charge, I went home and made a line drawing on my computer to replace the rough sketch, one that could be printed out 9 copies per sheet, easily distributed to everyone involved, small enough to be kept in a pocket, and small enough to look at without drawing attention to yourself.  They were so popular that when I was an older teenager and a new young men's leader tried to take charge and make his own official map for everyone to use, there were immediate requests from the other young men that he should change the one he made to look like mine- he tried to make the map cover an entire page -- much too large.

One of the disappointments I encountered as I transitioned out of the LDS church is that I discovered that the LDS sacrament, which I had dutifully passed, prepared, blessed, memorized blessing prayers for, and even on occasion taken to people who couldn't attend church because they were sick, represented a theology of how God expressed love towards and interacted with the world that didn't seem to match the way Jesus reached out to people in the New Testament.  The sacrament went from a highlight of my week and a memorial of a lifetime of devotion to something that I could only hesitantly participate in.  It was a joyful experience to discover a new way to understand and participate in worship to hear in the Episcopal Church the words of communion after the breaking of the bread:
Priest: "Alleluia. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us"
People: "Therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia."

Priest: "The Gifts of God for the People of God."
Instead of the Sacrament representing a theology dividing people - the kinds of people the Holy Ghost would spend time around and the kinds of people the Holy Ghost did not spend time with- communion was a gift to be received joyfully.

Today was my first Sunday volunteering to be a chalice bearer.  During communion the priest presented the bread to those gathered around the alter and I followed after him carrying the chalice, a wide brimmed ceremonial cup, filled with wine for those gathered around the alter to drink from or dip their bread .  The priest presented the bread, saying:
 "The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven."
I followed after saying:
"The Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation."
With everything that has changed in my life, one thing that hasn't changed is the value I place on being able to participate in and perform religious rituals.  I look forwards to continuing to participate in church services and as my kids become older I hope to find new ways to do so.  Some things never change.

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