Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Five: Sacrament... all is holy?

I can't remember the last time I participated in a Friday Five.  I miss them.  Friday's my day off and I tend to be off the computer more than other days which means less time on the blog.  Gee that makes it sound I'm on the blog other days!  Anyway...

Here are the questions posted by Sally at RevGals:

This Friday Five stems from some questions that have been running around my head and heart recently and are squeezing their way out through my blog here and again here.

So I'd like to ask you some simple questions about the sacraments:

1. What does the Lord's supper/ Eucharist mean to you?
2. How important is preparation for this, and what form does it take?
3. What does baptism mean to you?
4. How important is preparation for baptism and what form does it take?
5. A quote/ poem/ song that brings you before God in a sacramental way, and helps you to engage at a deeper level...

I'm taking my shot at them!

1.  How I'm experiencing the Lord's Supper totally changes with the liturgical season, my spiritual state of mind, the worship setting, whether I'm presiding or not...  The list is endless.  The metaphor I'm drawn to most is that of the sacrament as the foretaste of the heavenly banquet.   I want everyone to be welcome.  I want none to be left out.  I want tastes that bring joy (not a foamy feeling wafer) in amounts that are not just noticeable, but abundant.  It's OK, if my piece of bread is big enough that I have to take two bites!  It's not a somber, quiet, stone-faced observance.  It's a celebration.  We're smiling; we might even make a little joke if your bread falls apart in the common cup.  Excitement is OK, as is bright, lively, life-giving music.

2.  In all honesty preparation is pretty minimal for me and the worshiping community I lead.  My personal preparation is practically nothing when I'm presiding.  I mean, I lead prayers and I guess I'm praying them, but not at all in the same was as when I'm receiving the sacrament.  When I'm leading the prayers I'm worrying about how I'm saying the words, how long it's taking, what comes next, what will happen if suddenly for the first time ever in 10 years the words of institution just slip right out of my mind.   It's not really prayerful.  I guess I could do something separate before worship, but it's never occurred to me before.  I have no idea what that would look like, and I know I wouldn't do it.  And besides the kind of "prep" I do when I'm not presiding is directly related to how I'm experiencing the worship around me.  It's not long and drawn out prep, but it's about focusing in, being attentive to the people with whom I am worshiping, being attentive to God's movement in the service.

3.  (Infant) Baptism screams promise to me - - God's promise to love and redeem us, parents' promises to raise raise their child knowing he or she is a child of God, a congregation's promise on behalf of the church universal to be a part of the family of faith together, to support and teach and care for each other's lives.

4.  Baptism prep is important to me.  The favorite prep I ever did was in my last call when we had 4 or 5 families all pregnant at the same time.  We did the prep together.  It was a neat opportunity to talk through our excitement and our fear, our hopes and our dreams, our challenges and our strengths in raising our children in faith.  It forged a wonderful community among the parents, many of whom actually grew up together, too, and were becoming parents for the first time together.  I led the preparation, but my husband and I were also participants as I was pregnant with our first daughter, too.  Most of the time, though, I do the preparation one and one and love it, too.  It's usually a time for me to really get to know a family and for them to get to know me.  Nine times out of ten I meet them in their home, where they are comfortable, and that usually leads to more honest, open conversations.  I really like to drive home the idea that baptism is the seal of a number of promises, like I said above, that it is the placing of their child in hands other than their own - - God's hands, and the hands of the community of faith.  It's sort of scary because you never know where God will call your child, but it's entirely comforting because we and our child receive the promise that we aren't in it alone.  I spend a bunch of time trying to give them ideas of how they can help their child remember their baptism in the many years to come.

5.  "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"  For a reason I can't explain and don't want to analyze (some of the lyrics are NOT my usual favorite song material) anyway, this song is like sacrament to me.  In singing it I am simultaneously offering myself and being filled with the Spirit of God.

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