Laughter and a Stained White Robe
by Pastor Tim Westermeyer
When I think of Communion from my youth, I don’t think of one single memory, but instead find myself reflecting on a constellation of different images and recollections.
I remember how, for instance, my Mother would come back to the pew to sit and pray after she received Communion. That taught me that whatever it is that happens during Communion, it is holy and sacred.
I remember, too, how the bread and wine were always stored in the rear of the Sanctuary – in full view of everyone as you entered. That taught me that God is always right among us and in our presence – not isolated and removed from us.
I remember how, during the Communion liturgy, Pastor Stapleton would put on a chasuble – a fancy outer garment that he wore over his robe – in advance of the Communion liturgy. That taught me that we are called to bring our best to God.
If I’m honest, though, the memory that stands out more than any of these was a time when I received Communion as part of the Junior Choir. We wore white robes, and something another choir member said immediately after we received the wine got me laughing.
I continued to laugh as I made my way down the side aisle, back to the choir loft. I was laughing so hard, in fact, that I couldn’t even swallow the little bit of wine that was in my mouth. As a result, the wine ended up all over the sleeve of my white choir robe, which I had used to cover my mouth so I didn’t spray the parishioners in the pews with wine as I spit it out.
C.S. Lewis said once that “joy is the serious business of heaven.” When I get there, I hope God forgives me for putting someone through the trouble of washing that stained white robe. Until then, I’m grateful for learning early on that laughter is probably a pretty good response to the love God shows us in the Sacrament of Communion.
During Lent 2011, we are encouraging the St. Philip the Deacon community to reflect on the Sacrament of Holy Communion — recalling early memories, describing memorable celebrations of Communion, or reflecting on how Communion informs daily life. This post is part of that series. We invite your reflections about Communion, as well. If you would like to submit something for this series, please send it to Pastor Cheryl Mathison at email@example.com.
Great post. Our God is a loving, forgiving, smiling, laughing God… That feeling when we are out of breath and tight in the stomach…. That feeling of cathartic joy… That too is the stuff of God… Well-said, as always, Tim.