Anyone who knows me well knows that I like trying new things especially in church life. Honestly, standard worship templates bore me. (And I think if I’m uninspired then I think others must be too!) So, I love thinking of creative ways to organize a worship service. I love making special Sundays of the liturgical year come alive for people.
The truth be told, I have some good ideas sometimes. But then, other times, I fail miserably.
And, such was the case a couple of years ago when I was the pastor of Washington Plaza Baptist Church in Reston, Virginia. It was World Communion Sunday.
I need to preface the story I’m about to tell you by saying that Kevin was out-of-town for the weekend. Very important detail. He usually is the one that gives me that look which says, “Honey, I think you need to re-think that.” But alas, on the eve of World Communion Sunday, 2012, I was alone and going over the bulletin. Mentally preparing for the next day, I felt remiss that I didn’t plan a more interesting service when I was at my desk the previous Wednesday afternoon working on it.
So of course I went to Google. I found several examples of readings/ activities that could be a part of the communion liturgy. Several seemed easy enough to add in, especially with the bulletin already printed.
One website suggested that I bring several different types of bread to the table to use as a part of communion. Then I was told to invite an elder or deacon to read prayer for that country or region that the bread came from. Then when the time came to eat the meal together, the website suggested: let the members choose what kind of bread they want to dip in the chalice of juice (or wine). This sounded fun! I was sold.
But course, one problem. It was Saturday night. . . . I was already in my pajamas. Didn’t want to make a trip to the store. Didn’t think I’d have time to make a trip to the store on the way to church that morning either.
So off to my pantry I went. Surely I must have something interesting I could offer as “breads of the world” from my kitchen. And this is what I found:
- Hawaiian rolls (you know the brand)
- Banana bread (I’d just made the morning before)
- Pita bread
Though I knew these weren’t great choices– not like the injera (from Ethiopia) or the naan (from India) or even the chapati (from Kenya) suggested on the website– I decided to go with what I had. I could just change the liturgy to fit what my kitchen offered, right?
So on Sunday morning, I recruited three volunteers to help us pray for Hawaii and the Pacific Islands (with the Hawaiian rolls), for the Middle East (with the pita bread) and Jamaica (with the banana bread). Of course these places needed our prayers but maybe not the best representation of the world as a whole.
Ok, please laugh now.
Praying for Jamaica with the banana bread . . . and Hawaii with the Hawaiian rolls, really? Oh, but we did!
If that wasn’t bad enough, after only a couple of people went through the line at the front of the church there were LOTS (and I mean LOTS) of floaties of banana bread in the chalice. I really shouldn’t have made it extra moist the morning before.
My pastor friends now make fun of me yearly for this snafu. And my Anglican and Catholic friends are horrified.
So word to the wise all of you pastors and churchy types that will celebrate World Communion Sunday tomorrow– don’t get too fancy. Leave the banana bread at home.