August 30, 2020, our little country church, opened it’s doors for in person worship. It was the first time since the advent of coronavirus shut downs. I was excited and went knowing it would be different.
It was different. And odd, and a little uncomfortable. We sat socially distanced, of course. Hugs didn’t happen. We wore our blasted masks. There was little eye contact.
Lack of eye contact is a peculiar phenomena I’ve noticed during these months of masked living. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems folks generally look up, to the side, down, over your shoulder, but rarely into your eyes.
I like to look into eyes. I like hugs.
I didn’t like the way my mask sucked in and out as we sang. I fiddled with it constantly, pulled the bottom open for air, adjusted the elastic. Tried to focus on why I was there.
I noticed there were no hymnals or bibles in the seat back of the pews, just some odd looking sealed, plastic cups. Our pastor shared his good words. Then it was over.
Except for communion.
Normally we start our services with communion, taking the bread and wine (cracker and juice) in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice for us… the body broken, innocent blood shed, the ultimate payment for man’s sin.
Pastor told us we were welcome to take one of those little cups. We could take the emblems where we sat as long as we disposed of the container in the garbage can outside, or take the cup outside, or take it home… whatever we were comfortable with.
I wasn’t comfortable with any of it. But I understood. There were strict protocols to follow in order to keep the church doors open. But I also didn’t understand. And I just wanted to go home.
So I took my little cup, which suddenly felt like precious cargo, and got into my car. I drove home. I parked under the tree I always park under. I ate my cracker and drank my juice. And as I watched Doug washing his truck at the other end of the driveway, I told Jesus I was sorry everything in this world is so messed up and I wondered if he was offended by this plastic cup.
And you know what he said to me?
I’ve been living in your hungry, messy heart for years… a little plastic cup isn’t a problem for me.
The next Sunday was better. We all gathered in the parking lot after service, stood in a circle, took off our masks and shared communion. Everyone still had faces, smiles, eyes and I even got a hug.
The Sunday after that we were blanketed in smoke and ash from Oregon wild fires. So we stayed inside and very carefully shared communion there.
What has stayed with me lately is not the little plastic cup of juice. It’s not the method of taking communion. It’s the thought that I am a living, breathing “to go” cup. Every person who has invited Jesus into their life is too.
He’s with me wherever I go and whatever I do. I’m a little embarrassed about some of that, to be honest, but grateful for His mercy.
A virus, society shut down, wildfires, hurricanes, riots, violence, imperfect government inserting itself too far into individual lives makes me feel helpless and sometimes angry. There is nothing I can do to change this messy world.
I can only work on my messy little piece of it. Every day. Over and over again. As long as I’m here.
And He is with me.