Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Last Penny Has Not Yet Been Paid

So there I am, sitting in the pew last Sunday, watching the lay people walk up to receive their communion, when I saw HER. Blink. Blink. Nope. No way. Blink. Blink. Yes way. That's HER! Now she's walking to take her place behind the communion rail. Now she's watching the supplicants approach to receive the bread and wine. Now SHE'S giving it to them!

I collared the Rector after the service. Excuse me, but why exactly is SHE up there? He was shocked to learn we had not kissed and made up. Well, unless you count that overture that morphed into a self-justifying, self-righteous, red-faced ranting diatribe, that flowered into being the phrase, "turned puce with anger," repentance...Uh, NO!

I've been thinking about this all week. Initially, I thought I'll just make my views known and leave it at that. After all, I've managed to ignore her all these years. But, no, it's one thing for her to be part of the church bureaucracy, where there's always a self-aggrandizing person or two, it's another for her to become a lay minister. It's egregious. I object!

But this has got me wondering: just what qualifies one to administer the sacrament of communion, anyway?

I assume one does not need to be perfect since that would exclude everyone, including the priest. But there has to be SOME minimum standard of conduct. And the priest-in-charge can't be so afraid of confrontation that he says yes to everyone who asks.
"So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5: 23-24)
I would think that inasmuch as this applies to a congregant, it applies even more to the lay person giving communion.
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
Some Christians like to light up their good works for all to see, never mind who they trample in the process, and what better way to appear devout than to become part of the lay ministry. The problem is that Jesus doesn't say do good works to puff yourself up, to appear more devout than you are, to justify yourself. He says to do it to bring glory to God. Surely in determining if a person is fit to serve, the priest-in-charge ought to weigh just how and why they did their good works. It's pretty obvious who are the do-gooders and who are the genuine ones trying very hard to follow Christ's teachings.

In the final analysis, I have to lean on the Bible and believe that Jesus' warnings will come to pass, his warnings about what will happen when people like HER transgress and do not make reparations.

Matthew 5:26: "Truly I tell you [meaning, listen up bubb], you will never get out until you have paid the last penny."

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