Friday, December 30, 2016

It's different everywhere and at this place communion happens on the first Sunday of the month. They wanted to wear the old robes for Advent and break out the new robes in the new year. I selected an unspoken-for robe, its plastic hanger not bearing a choir member's name, and it felt so snug, probably a youth's size. A shorter woman asked me whether hers, which was sweeping the floor, looked too oversized and I almost said, "Yes, let's swap!"

The fill-in pastor introduced herself to me yet again, asking me my name.

The choir box seats twelve comfortably. We had five altos, two tenors and four sopranos. The sopranos, however, believe that they reserve half of the choir box. Already they'd lost a seat to me, as I sat next to them in the upper row. The two sopranos in front, a mother / daughter team (or grandmother / granddaughter), refused to move down when asked. They weren't doing much to dispel the "diva" stereotype1.

The church filled up more than the previous Sunday evening, the Community Thanksgiving Service which eight people attended. I noticed that our choir director acts more like an MC, or rather more properly, like a cantor. For example, he called the pastor's attention when she inadvertently skipped the "Call to Worship" portion of the service. She thanked him and said, "What would I do without you?"

It seems intentional that so many adults volunteer to help with children's church rather than endure the sermon. The two sopranos, too, who refused to slide down, went out with the children. But they were simply slipping out early. The pastor includes so many quotations in her sermons; I feel she's trying to impress through namedropping. She mentions Henri Nouwen a great deal.

I did my best to keep on top of the service, especially when it was time to sing. Relative to the overall time spent at worship, we did precious little singing. And communion was tacked on, too. I had a side view of that Christian ordinance for the first time. She presented a huge loaf then gave four ushers (or deaconesses, I don't know) prepared platters. Two came directly to the choir box which seemed grossly disproportionate to the nine of us there. Then they walked, with measured or exaggerated steps, down the aisles, glancing constantly to their left and right to keep even with the other servers. As best as I could make out, only myself and the choir director abstained. They came around again in the same way as before with the juice cups. Four servers with full platters, much too much for the usual turnout. I passed empty, used cups down the choir rows because there are no prayerbook racks with spots for the used cups.

Meanwhile, from my side view, I became keenly aware that the minister was doing nothing while communion was distributed. She paced a bit at first, as if she didn't know what to do with herself. Then she backed up from the table and seated her rump on the front ledge of the platform. I found the image highly off-putting but I was just as bothered by her idleness during communion. Now, one might declare, "'Priesthood of all believers' means everyone ministers to themselves and self-communicates." Obviously, I'm not going to agree with that.

The polyester of the choir robes made me uncomfortable. If I had been seated on the end of the choir box, I would have gone out for a breather during the service. But I was trapped in the middle so that wasn't possible. At one point in the service, I really felt quite ill but I held it together and got through.

At the conclusion, I hung up my robe in the closet. I can't make the next four or five Sunday mornings.
1 "How many sopranos does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: One. She holds the bulb and the world revolves around her."

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