The Day the Chalice Ran Out …
By, Fr. Mark Sietsema
Imagine a Sunday …
You are in line for Holy Communion. Ahead of you were the Sunday School children and the first five rows of parishioners. But now it’s your turn. You make the Sign of the Cross and step forward to the chalice. You say your baptismal name, you raise your head, and you open your mouth nice and wide …
… and nothing happens.
You look at the priest. He shrugs. “I’m so sorry,” he says. “It’s all gone. There just wasn’t enough for everyone who wanted some.”
You nod sympathetically. (Though it puzzles you how this could happen.) You turn and head for the andidoron bowl and grab a piece and walk back to your pew.
As you head down the side aisle, something catches your eye. You turn and see …
… that the Communion line is still running! The priest is still dipping the spoon in the chalice and still placing the Holy Gifts in the mouths of your fellow parishioners.
Wait one second! He said there wasn’t enough for everyone. He said it was all gone. How could he lie like that to me!?!?!
Wouldn’t this be an outrageous scene? How would you react? What would you say to the priest, who had enough Communion for everyone else, but nothing for you? Would it not be a scandal?
It would. A terrible sin.
But let’s turn the tables on this one for a moment ... Isn’t this precisely what some of us have done to God?
The Parish Council makes many appeals throughout the year for stewardship contributions. Some of our parishioners are very cheerful givers, and whether their gifts are big or small, they give from the heart, readily and speedily. We thank them and bless them for their generosity.
Others, however, are reluctant givers. They have to be asked many, many times, and often the response is. “I don’t have any money to give. There just isn’t enough for everyone who wants money from me.”
And the parish and its leaders nod sympathetically and move on. Except … we notice that those who had nothing to give to God have plenty of money to spend on entertainments and pleasures—cable TV and a new iPhone, Starbucks coffees and restaurant meals, nights at the Wharton Center and great vacations.
When the church came calling, they said there was no money left. But there was money, and money to spare. We are all fooling ourselves if we think that we don’t have a little bit each week to give back to God from the material blessings He has given us. It just means denying ourselves a few creature comforts (some of which are perhaps not so healthy for us anyway).
So far this year, over 170 parish families have responded to the call for stewardship. We are grateful for their faithful support of this church and her ministries. But as we review the ledgers, we find another 120 parish families that have yet to make that commitment. The church has been there for them, when they wanted to receive Communion, or have a baptism, or a wedding, or needed a funeral or a confession, … The Church has yet to tell anyone: So sorry … no can do … we ran out ...
If you are one of those who has yet to respond in 2017, please step forward now and be counted. The weeks of summer bring beautiful weather outdoors, but emptier coffers here at the church. Your timely stewardship gifts will be greatly appreciated.
AND … you can have the satisfaction of knowing, the next time you step into the Communion line, that no one is running out in any way.
A Blessed Summer to All!