Bob and I went to see mom and dad. While we were there the pastor from St. Peter (the town’s LC-MS church mom and dad were considering joining) was going to be doing worship at the nursing home, including communion. Dad suggested that we go with mom. In all honesty, the idea didn’t excite me much, but the idea of going to communion with mom was a good one. From the start I had my doubts that they would serve me – I know their ‘qualifications’ and I don’t qualify. I am a woman, an ordained pastor. But I also thought, hoped that maybe things could be a little looser in a nursing home setting.
We gathered in the chapel/theater. There was a great amount of energy around making sure everyone could hear, plugging in of mics and other sound devices. That seemed very hospitable. The pastor seemed quite nice. We sang Christmas carols and the sermon was quite good, in fact, it felt like home. The words of the liturgy were from The Lutheran Hymnal, p. 15. At first I was annoyed, but quickly realized that that was not only what they are probably still using at St. Peter’s, but more importantly, it is what the residents know.
Anyways, time for communion came. Before hand, Viola had asked dad if was going to take communion. She never asked me. A bad sign. For the distribution we all stayed seated and the pastor and Viola began making the rounds. They served a small group on my right, including my mom, and then they walked behind me and served a small group on my left, including my dad. There was no indication that I even existed. My mom wondered why I wasn’t served with her, but I was able to convince her it was alright. For her sake I was glad she wasn’t really aware of what had just happened. When they didn’t serve me with my dad’s side he looked at me and raised his eyebrows.
At the end of the service the pastor said how nice it was have me join with them along with some other small talk.
Mostly I had all kinds of snarky remarks floating through my head. I was a bit shocked, even though I wasn’t surprised. I was hurt. It is never fun to be excluded. And I surely was. Quite blatantly. Amazingly, actually. All the theological stuff ran through my head which at the time I boiled down to wanting to ask the pastor exactly what he had hoped to accomplish by doing that. Of course it was upholding purity (of something or other), but what’s the point of that. What does that even mean and what’s the point of the Gospel anymore if that is the case.
But perhaps for me there was a bigger irony and hurt. I remember as a little girl going to St. Peter’s with my grandma to help with her Altar Guild duties. While she worked I was able to explore the chancel and go in places I never could otherwise go into. The pulpit. Close to the HOLY altar. Behind the communion rail. I especially remember the red carpeting. And it was really neat. I always felt moved/inspired/called(?) when that happened. And then to have that same church turn me away because of the way I have followed that call is incredibly ironic. And painful. All for the sake of purity.
I don’t know if my grandma ever knew how neat that was for me. And how now I think of it as a bonding time and this has made me think of it as an early time when I ‘heard’ the call.
I might have a conversation with the pastor (I don’t even know his name). Maybe. I’m pretty sure it would be pointless, except for maybe causing him to think for one second a little bit about the implications of upholding purity. Where was the grace? Where was the pastoral care? Where was Jesus’ message in all of that? WWJD?
I did want to tell him I have prayed with Muslims and that they pray in my office all the time. And that those have been some of the most sacred moments of prayer I can remember. I’d tell him purely for the shock value. I don’t know if I’ll follow through on a conversation, but maybe. I have a feeling my dad has already given him a call.
Original journal entry date: 1/8/09
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