WHEN THINGS DON’T WORK OUT AS PLANNED
She is blind and has an Anglican background, not that the two are related, and she asked me if I could organise for a priest to come and give her communion, the Lord’s supper.
But Anglela (not her real name) didn’t get to see him before Easter as she had wanted. She suffered a heart attack and went to hospital.
While she was in hospital she decided that I was a nice enough Chaplain and that I might be able to take her funeral in the event of her having another heart attack. She would ask me on her return to the Aged Care Facility.
On her return she said. “On further thought, if you are to take my funeral you might as well have communion with me instead of asking a priest.”
“I would be honoured.”
Knowing that Anglicans have real wine for their communion, I went down to the kitchen and asked for some. I don’t drink so I left it up to them to choose. They were busy but they gave me a choice of two. I chose the red one which was not a sparkling wine, so I was sure it would be suitable.
Procuring a slice of bread (there were no communion wafers around), and some throw-away communion cups, on the arranged day I arrived at Angela’s door with all the equipment, Anglican communion service included, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. I could tell she was excited and expected great things from her alternative priest.
We proceeded through the service until we arrived at the bread and wine. I had already poured the wine in the cups and placed them in a communion tray, ready. After eating the bread together, remembering the body of Christ, we proceeded to take the wine from the two small glasses. As she is blind I made sure she had a firm hold of her glass.
We drank together on that morning, but before we could remember the spiritual significance of the moment we simultaneously gagged at the dry, bitter taste of the wine as it burned it’s way relentlessly down our throats. We gasped at the unpleasant alcoholic surprise.
I don’t normally drink alcohol but I had made an exception for this spiritually uplifting moment. Now I was regretting the decision greatly, but realised with greater clarity why I had made a choice not to drink in the first place. There would be no chance of me succumbing to the wiles of alcohol on the sculling of this potion. We almost spat it out, but it was too late.
“Oh, my Goodness!” I said, and she responded to the taste of the brew with a shudder and a grimacing look of disgust on her face. Her lips were twisted slightly as she said “This is not the sweet tasting wine that reminds me of my Saviour.”
In haste and trying to save the sacredness of the moment I said “No, it certainly isn’t! Perhaps it can remind us instead of the bitterness of the Cross and the sacrifice He paid for us.”
Nice save, I thought. She wasn’t so sure about this and I apologised for the wrong choice of wine. I finished the service while she gave the appropriate responses, said the Lord’s prayer, Apostles Creed and I finished with a benediction.
I was so relieved when she said that this had been a wonderful time of fellowship and she looked forward to having communion with me again.
“Next time… I assure you that I will bring a sweet communion grape juice to remind you of your Saviour.” I quickly returned the wine to the fridge in the Extra Services section where those who have more experience at drinking alcohol can scull it down with a grimace, and shudder as it burns it’s way dryly down their throats. Perhaps they too will have their determination reinforced to become tea totalers.