Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year's Eve Communion Service, 12/31/2016

I swear that the event was initially touted as a prayer service. Somehow, after I'd decided to attend, it changed into a communion service. Once I make up my mind, I can't just up and change it.

Recalling last year's service, this wasn't identical. As a woman played the electronic keyboard, I could hear her long fingernails clacking on the keys. We sang three of what they call a "chorus," just a refrain, really. Stuffed with the hymnal is a "chorus binder." I sat behind the associate pastor and his wife and imitated their gestures as we sang. We hand-clapped for the first number, except on the final time through. In the second one we raised our hands when the lyrics mentioned that. Well, I didn't raise my hands but I managed to turn my palms upwards. After confirming that she hadn't planned another song, the pastor asked for testimonies. Just about everyone in attendance gave one. It was like an auction and he'd call on anyone who so much as scratched their chin to witness. I dared not flinch. I felt like I was back in grammar school getting called upon.

But the pastor prefers talking to listening so he didn't linger on testimonies. He gave the musician at her keyboard on the platform with him an opportunity to take her seat with the congregation but she declined. He began reading from Genesis 1:31 and threw everything including the kitchen sink at us. Creation was very good but man was disobedient and sinful but God knew the plan from the beginning and Jesus would come to redeem us. And if you've never given your life over to him ... words that skip past the intellect and resonate at the core.

He described how communion would be distributed: everyone would come forward and take the elements from him. I could tell that procession wasn't their typical practice because there was no order. Everyone made a dash for it. I could also tell that, unlike when communion is passed, I would not dodge it. In a way, he was monitoring it. And a teen girl did not go forward, so he came to her and made her take it1. He also started towards the musician on the platform but as he approached she said she already had. Like before the service even started! After we all had, he said the words from 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 but also included Matthew's mention of the remission of sins.

We said a quick prayer and things were done. I left rather promptly. I counted 15 attendees including myself. The pastor blamed the low turnout on it being a Saturday night.2

1 and it's gestures like that that show they want the ordinance to carry more weight that they even admit.
2 it's interesting to note that in 2012/2013, Bishop O'Connell celebrated with Te Deum and vespers on New Year's Eve. NLM's write-up and my own recollection. As far as I know, it has not been repeated.

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