Always Real, Silliness, Snips And Snails

Blue Parachute Guy And The Fellowship Of All Believers

As we settled into our seats at church on Sunday morning, Sean opened his fist and proudly showed me a tiny blue guy wearing a parachute.

“Dude, that is awesome!” I said. “Where did you get that?”

He told me that he got it in Sunday school, that it was a reward for reciting his Bible verse with no help.  I told him I was proud and impressed and that I looked forward to playing with it WHEN WE GET HOME.

I had a nightmarish vision of him throwing parachute guy into the air and it landing several rows ahead into someone’s lap.  Or worse, it lands in the hands of another child who throws it again.  And it becomes like a beach ball at a rock concert.

We attend one of those churches where every Sunday they serve communion by passing little trays of crackers, followed by little thimbles of grape juice.  In this past year, Sean has decided that he is a big boy and as such he should like to pass the communion and offering trays ALL BY HIMSELF — which is fine when he is sitting between his parents, but a bit more nerve racking when the next person is a further down pew.

I mostly hover and flinch as he takes the tray of grape juice and this makes him bristle, my hovering and flinching.  But I will say this, he’s gotten better at walking slowly and holding the trays evenly and gently offering it to the next person.  The first few times, instead of handing off the tray carefully,  he thrust it at them with a bit of enthusiasm which caused me to involuntarily shout “Help me Jesus!”

To be honest, the passing of the grape juice always puts me on edge no matter who is doing it.  It’s just such a precarious proposition.  The likelihood of one of those trays getting dumped seems pretty high to me.  Yet in all of the Sunday’s I’ve sat in a church that takes communion in this manner, I think it’s only happened once or twice, and then on the other side of the assembly. I had nothing to do with it and that in and of itself is amazing given my propensity for this kind of thing.

So then, you’ve got the high likelihood that 30 or so little cups of grape juice could get dumped on someone’s Sunday clothes at any moment and then you add to that a five-year-old who wants to help.  And that gives me a bit of anxiety.  They should pass around a little Xanex along with the communion for the uptight believers like me.

That’s my dissertation on the perils of communion which has nothing to do with anything thus far or hereafter.

So I’m sitting on the end of the pew and the usher hands me a fresh tray of grape juice. I’m holding the tray with one hand and choosing a thimble-sized cup with the other hand. And just as I lift the tiny cup to my mouth and throw my head back, out of the corner of my eye I see blue parachute guy buzz the tray.  Blue parachute guy does a military-style flyover over the grape juice, complete with sonic boom sound effects.  The tray vibrates and wobbles.  The juice sloshes from side to side. My heart comes to a complete stop.  But by the grace of God who loves that boy and saved him from imminent parental-inflicted harm, nothing spilled. Not a drop. A miracle.

“Parachute guy wants communion too!” he whispered at me with bright-eyed glee.

I turn to see AD give Sean “the look” — the same one that God used in the Old Testament to set various things on fire.

AD nabs parachute guy and removes him from the fellowship of all believers. Parachute guy is disfellowshipped (which as it turns out is not really a word).  Excommunicated.  Cast into the deep dark depths of purgatory to await mercy and redemption.

I passed the tray over Sean’s head, which was now hanging chin to chest in sorrowful repentance.

The rest of the service passed without further incident.

Because we are a family who has received grace freely, we extend grace freely and absolved parachute guy as soon as we got home.

But he will not be welcomed back into the fellowship of all believers any time soon.


41 thoughts on “Blue Parachute Guy And The Fellowship Of All Believers

  1. I always hold my breath when the juice is passed! It’s scary, no matter what.

    Experienced something new recently where it was all passed at once and it was quite a juggling act to take my little wafer AND my juice and then pass it on. But we wait and eat/drink it at the same time after all the passing around. My hubby has laughed at me for years because of the way I keep from spilling any juice. I hold it in one hand and place my palm over the top with the other. That way I can pray and not have to keep an eye on the juice and hope it doesn’t accidentally ‘slosh’ all over me when I wasn’t paying attention. Works for me!

    * * *
    Holding the elements to take all together is a great idea, even Biblical – unless you’ve got a child in/on/near your lap. Then it’s not really an option. But then again, I’m one who doesn’t march with the band very well. ~AM.

  2. I feel for poor parachute guy being disfellowshipped, but agree with you that airborne toys should be banned from the premises when there are trays of communion juice to juggle!

    I love that your church encourages children in the service. I wish ours even did the old school thing where kids are there for the first part and then excused to their classes.

    Ours are kept entertained during both hours from cradle to middle school. And then we wonder why the youth don’t (want to) attend the service while they wait for youth hour to begin.

    I may have to buck the trend and take mine out of their class so they have some foundation in attending “big church.”

    * * *
    We have always kept Sean with us in big church. It was a bit of a challenge when he was in that “toddler” stage, but now he has learned to sit still for an hour or so, which we think is an important life skill. Having said that, we do have a “church bag” wherein we keep color crayons, paper to draw on and pretzels to eat to keep him quietly busy. That helps a lot.

    However. If we had more than one child, I probably wouldn’t be writing this. ~AM

  3. I laughed so hard “LOL” doesn’t do it justice! My favorite line – “I turn to see AD give Sean “the look” — the same one that God used in the Old Testament to set various things on fire.” Hysterical!

  4. That’s hilarious! I love the way you tell the story, and I will keep it in mind when Brennan presents a toy to me in church. Bye, bye sweet toy. You are not welcome at the fellowship of all believers…or any other precarious situation, I might add!

  5. This incident is one that is going to seem more hilarious as time passes! I am sure it will be a hit at parties.

  6. That is such a sad tale. It seems there’s always one “parachute guy” in every congregation, isn’t there?

    (Psst… we don’t believe in purgatory. Remember?)

    * * * *
    Ah yes. Purgatory. Limbo. Patron saints. Holy water. Little crucifixes and rosaries. I choose to embrace my inner Catholic-school girl. You can take the girl outta the Catholic church but you can’t take the Catholic church outta the girl. It’s a major theme in the tapestry of my life, the very center of the culture in which I was raised.. 🙂

  7. I grew up Baptist where we only had communion once per quarter – but it was handled the same way as yours – little trays of juice & oyster crackers. Now I go to an Episcopal church where we all circle the alter & the priest gives the bread and a blessing, & then a church member brings the wine & a blessing. It’s really nice to stand in that big circle & watch everyone’s faces as we wait to eat & drink – & I especially love the children cupping their little hands & drinking from the giant cup. It’s definitely a grace-filled moment!

    * * * *
    There is indeed something special about the body of believers being gathered around one table, communing as it were, as was the practice of the 1st century Christians. Although I believe the 1st century believers practiced communion every time they gathered which was likely multiple times a week. ~AM

  8. Two words: Scrubbing Bubbles. That stuff will get grape juice out of clothes, carpet, and upholstery. I have cleaned our church building for several years, so I know. I also know now that is why burgundy is the preferred color for carpet and upholstery of churches that partake of communion weekly.

  9. I hate “drive-through window” communion. (Something about it reminds of of being passed my food through the Wendy’s drive through window). Thankfully where I go still does the kneel at the alter communion or else I would definitely need the Xanax antipasti.

  10. It is easy for me to laugh at this because my two kids are teenagers and no longer make my eye twitch at communion time.
    But, really, this story is so funny I’m going to make my husband sit down and read it.

    We didn’t utilize the nursery much either. My daughter, however, spent many a Sunday morning sitting on my lap in a darkened Sunday school room because she JUST DIDN’T GET IT. One of the deacons would open the door for me EVERY Sunday as I carried her out, and he’d say “Good luck, Sarge.” Yeah, she was my high maintenance one.

    * * *
    I think from here on out I’m going to have to call you Sarge. 🙂

  11. Oh, that is too funny!

    We have friends who sit across the sanctuary from us, and a couple weeks ago, their five-year-old son made a sign that said, “GO YANKEES” and held it up high during the middle of the service. It was hysterical… especially because his parents didn’t see it for a while. Gotta love kids.

  12. I get extremely nervous as well during the passing of “the cup”, because most of the time I am playing the piano during communion, and my husband is minding our littles, who just started taking communion in the fall. I just know one day I’m going to hear that metal tray crash to the floor, and grape juice will be everywhere. So I feel your pain. Most times, I’m hoping the servers will remember me. I get forgotten a lot, and when the rest of the body takes their bread and cup, there I sit looking like a sinner that abstained from the Lord’s Supper 🙂

    Glad to read Parachute Man was absolved 🙂 We all need a little grace…

    I love your writing….great blog dear!

    Hugs, Kathryn

  13. Lisa’s comment is right: grape juice probably IS the reason our seat and carpets are dark red!
    I’m sure God got a big laugh out of Parachute Guy.

  14. I’m glad your little guy gets to participate. We changed churches once and our children didn’t get to have communion. My daughter asked if God didn’t love her any more. We took them back to the old church at special services until they were “old” enough in the new church. Husband was choir director at new church and otherwise a great place. They changed that rule a couple of years later.

  15. Hey, Blue Parachute Guy was probably saving the day… Scaring a fly away or something noble like that! But tell him not to worry, he’s in very good company. My great-great-great-great however many times great uncle was William Tyndale, and HE was Excommunicated AND burned at the stake, for translating passages of the Bible into English. (look him up! Fascinating!) My own grandfather was Excommunicated, for marrying my grandmother. Long story! So Blue Parachute Guy can tell them “Hi” for me!

  16. My oldest will be in church with us next year for communion. I will be the lady with half a dozen tide-to-go pens in her purse. OUr church believes in drinking together so you have to hold that little cup till all 500 of us are served. That’s a long-time for a klutz mom and her kid to wait. Much, much too long.
    I’m thankful my church just gives them suckers for saying their verses. Keeps em quiet, keeps the troops out of my juice:)

  17. Cracked me up…and realized why TOK goes to kids church!! It would stress me out so much to have to deal with him during communion time!!

  18. Holy cow. That’s how I feel about the trays too. I’m so nervous when The Boy wants to handle them. I had to get over it with The Girl, considering that she’s baptized and all. I figure since she has steadier arms than me and has so much more grace than I could ever hope to have, she’ll probably go through church with nary a drop hitting her. Well, until she has kids at least.

  19. That was absolutely hilarious! I’ve never been in a church where the trays get passed, but when I was younger I was an accolyte (did I spell that right?) and our job during communion was to make sure all the trays of juice were filled with little cups. So we would get a partially filled one from a communion-giver and we would take the little cups out of another tray and fill them up. Quite a juggling act, but I never spilled one cup!

    My favorite line from your story: “But by the grace of God who loves that boy and saved him from imminent parental-inflicted harm, nothing spilled.” Aren’t we blessed to have that Grace? =)

  20. Wow, the church I grew up in must have been in the dark ages. First, you had to be old enough (but that was 5 or 6 anyway). We first had communion kneeling at the altar, then getting in line where the priest puts the wafer on your tongue, then finally where he just hands it to you. And it’s every week.

    But the wafers were never passed around, and we NEVER got grape juice. Only the priest got to imbibe anything, and who knows what he had in that goblet!

  21. Blue Parachute Guy would quickly be deemed a backslider in the church I grew up in.

    Southern Baptists don’t take too kindly to fly catching in the pews either. I had a friend of a friend that would bait flies with open palms and then squish them in the hymnal. I, I mean SHE, got in big trouble for that infraction. Needless to say, the flies went to heaven.

  22. My daughter kind of gnaws on the Communion wafer. We talk before, she knows better, gnawing happens, I die a little inside. Also, my irrational terror in church is that someone’s phone will go off. MINE! SOMEONE ELSE’S! ANYONE’S! It’s happened twice in all the time we’ve gone; once it was far away, and once it was Consort. And I died a little inside and make him hand me his phone so I can turn it off now.

  23. Loved this! As a Mom of 7 now-adult kids and Grandma to 14, I’ve gone through many communion services with little ones and I actually worry more about ME spilling than about them. And trying to get a hold of one of those thimble cups and get it out of the tray always challenges my dexterity! Thankfully, never had a grape juice accident. God is merciful to me, I think!

    I loved the line: I turn to see AD give Sean “the look” — the same one that God used in the Old Testament to set various things on fire.

    I’ve used that “look” many a time in church. Just ask our kids! LOL

  24. I’m so glad someone else has communion anxiety, too! I have almost always attended churches where they pass those tiny cups, and I usually put them in the pew holder until time to drink – just in case. Now we attend a church where we take communion every week, going up to the front and breaking off real bread and dipping it in real wine. It’s weird (to me, because it’s not familiar) but at least it removes the spill-stress! And much better than the previous one we attended while we lived in London. Everyone drank straight from the same cup. Every time I did it I expected my lips to fall off or break out in scabies or something! 🙂

  25. You’re amazing. I wouldn’t trust my child within two zipcodes of the communion grape juice tray. And you can bet he’d be sending blue parachute guy on multiple missions during the service. Good for you for teaching him so well, and giving him a steady hand.

  26. O.K., I was laughing my way through that post just imagining your stress level rising . . . and rising . . . and rising. I know those blue parachute guys and they are fun–but not in church.

    I had a little communion anxiety of my own on Sunday as it was the first time my youngest took communion. She wasn’t quite sure what to do and almost dropped the tray of grape juice. Whew!!

  27. You know, I swear, we must sit in the same pew. Not really, I’m Catholic, and we go up for communion, but I so get all of this. My kids are older now, but there were days when cars were in the pews with us, and I was so afraid. Now I watch mothers of other young children with the same look of mild distress, resembling indigestion, throughout mass. I always send them a special blessing because I understand how they and their little ones feel. Thanks again for a bright spot in my day. A real one.~~Dee

  28. “I turn to see AD give Sean “the look” — the same one that God used in the Old Testament to set various things on fire.”

    Totally cracked me up. I remember the hovering–my hand near one side of the tray–hubby’s hand near the other just in case. My boy is now 8, and he SUCCESSFULLY WITHOUT ME HOVERING passed the entire communion tray of juice to an elderly woman that was about two people distance over from us on Sunday morning. Normally she sits on our pew but is further down from us so they give her a different tray. But this week, The Boy was on the end and got to pass it. He DID show me beforehand how he holds the bread with only ONE hand, but the juice with TWO in anticipation that I might balk at him handling it alone. I reminded him to pass it slowly and let God handle the rest. No one went home stained. 🙂

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