Controlled Chaos

Controlled chaos:  shaving cream war at Great Escape

Controlled chaos: shaving cream war at Great Escape

Isn’t the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Isn’t the loaf of bread that we break a sharing in the body of Christ? – 1 Corinthians 10:16 (CEB)

I love the Sacraments.

On the Sundays I’m “off,” one of the churches I worship at celebrates the Eucharist every week. When I finished serving at my home church a couple of years ago, I took advantage of the opportunity by worshipping with many different congregations. There were many blessings in this, but one thing I missed was celebrating the Sacraments. While many mainline denominations celebrate the Eucharist on the first Sunday of the month, some don’t – and most nondenominational congregations do not. And for someone who was without community, the blessing of Communion was much-needed.

I am now privileged to lead worship and preside at the table on the first Sunday of each month at the congregation I am serving. I love thinking about the Word proclaimed and the Word experienced. The latter is a continuation of the former, so I often move directly from the pulpit to the table without an “Amen” or “Let us pray.” While I love the Eucharist in the many ways we celebrate it, I am partial to intinction – where we dip the bread into the common cup. I love the repetition of the words as the bread and cup are shared. When I’m not serving, I often just sit and listen and think of each person’s story as they receive the bread of life and share the cup of salvation.

This morning, an “off” week, Youngest and I worshipped with this congregation that celebrates the Eucharist each week (he referred to it as “the one where the pastors down the wine” since they use wine rather than grape juice). This congregation uses intinction. Because I love to hear the words and see the people, I usually don’t sit with my eyes closed as I wait for my turn (or afterwards if I’m at the front of the line).

Part of the danger of being a “professional” when you worship, is that you tend to think about how you would do it differently. This church doesn’t have a center aisle, which it makes intinction a little trickier. Every time we worship with this congregation I marvel at the somewhat controlled chaos of Communion. The way the servers are lined up, people are crossing over lines to return to their seats. What could be a meditative, rhythmic process is a bit messy as people try to receive the elements, choose the common cup or the individual cup (or go to the chancel to receive gluten-free bread and juice) and then cross through another station to return to their seat.

Youngest had seated us in the third row, right in the middle of the sanctuary, so we could see it all (and were practically a part of it). This morning, I was at once appreciating the individual and communal act of receiving the elements while also watching the messiness as people were crossing this way and that. Once again, I wondered why they didn’t figure out a less chaotic way of doing this.

But then I had a rush of joy.

Isn’t this the way life is? A little bit organized, a little bit chaotic – everyone trying to receive what they need to sustain them in whatever life is throwing their way. Life is messy, and it’s OK if our worship is as well. What matters is that we are doing it in community, seeking and being fed by Christ. While it could have been designed a little better, at the end of the day, God was worshipped, Christ was present and the Holy Spirit moved amidst both the order and the chaos. Really, what more could we ask for?

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)

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