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.