Monday, April 23, 2012

Lunch Conversation

My astronomer husband and I have been married for more than fifty years. We really have almost nothing in common - except for the many years of living together, the five kids, the ten grandkids, and the fact that he is just so cute. Recently he joined the SLOOH Space Camera site. He spends many hours viewing the sky and observing the stars and planets. He is enthralled by all he is able to see. His conversation is now dominated by his observation of the sky using this telescope. Our lunch conversation today sounded sort of like this:
D - “When you plot the same right ascension and declination you see a different part of the sky each time you look.” S- “This is a big salad. I'll give you some.” D – “I am about to complete photographing Pluto's movement.” S –“ I still think Pluto is a planet.” D – “It's only a plutiod - only 14th magnitude brightness.” S - “This is a good sandwich.” D – “The sun is 10 to the 16th times brighter than Pluto.” S -”I think I'll have ice cream for dessert.” D - “Me too.”

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


One of the things I get to do at church is prepare the communion for our Sunday morning services. This has never been a chore for me. It has always felt like a privilege. I have so many memories that surround communion. Usually the church is quiet while I get things ready and it becomes a time a peaceful meditation for me. The scriptures say that we are to remember Jesus as we gather around the communion table. I do think about Jesus, but I also feel surrounded by all the people who have shown me Jesus over the years.

In our tradition we pass trays filled with small cups of grape juice along the pews. Each person takes one of the small cups and drinks the juice as we reflect on it's meaning.

I grew up in a family where church was very much part of our everyday life. One of my earliest memories is standing on a chair in the church kitchen helping my mom put the little glass cups into the trays. As I got a bit older I was allowed to fill a bulb syringe with juice and squirt it into the little cups. My mom made this chore seem like a great privilege that only big girls were allowed to do. I'm a big girl now, Mom. I am allowed to fill the little cups all by myself.

Just as funny things happen around the dinner table at home, lots of funny things have happened over the years around the communion table. I think God must have a wonderful sense of humor, and God must laugh with us at our funny mishaps.

One week we prepared the trays on Saturday afternoon and put them into the refrigerator until time for services the next morning. Somehow the refrigerator got set to very, very cold. The juice in the little cups froze solid. We did not notice this until the trays were being passed along the pews and people tried to drink. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. It is impossible to drink an ice cube. People tried licking the frozen juice. People tried turning the cups in their hands to thaw them. Some people banged the little cups on the pews or their legs. Everyone got the giggles.

Scripture refers to the fruit of vine as part of the communion. This inspired one minister to substitute grapes for the juice. Instead of trays of juice, plates of grapes were passed along the pews. This felt a bit odd, but it became very funny when we realized that these were not seedless grapes. Just what is the polite thing to do with grape seeds in church?

One Sunday one of the teen-aged boys helping to serve communion was coming back down the steps from the pulpit area when he tripped. The tray flew out of his hands, spilling juice all over him, the floor and everyone sitting on the front row. There was a great deal of jumping up and scurrying around in an effort to clean up the mess. Poor Chris just sat there and said, “Uh-oh.” For years afterward the people getting ready to serve would pray not to pull a Chris.

One of my dear friends would frequently look at me with a sparkle in her eye as we took the cup. We would clink our little cups together and whisper,”Cheers.” For us it was a happy little celebration of being together in God's family. I miss you Julie.

Next time you gather around the communion table, remember that you are part of the family of God. Remember Jesus, and remember all the people who have helped you to celebrate the joy of being a Christian.

Do you have any good stories about communion?

Come to the table.