Thursday, 22 October 2009


I had a rather lovely chat with Gentle Vicar today.

I explained some of my background -- the difficult, semi-nomadic childhood, the spiritual barrenness of my first experiences with Christianity, the venture into Judaism, some of the factors that made me re-examine Christianity.

We spoke of the changes at Nearest Church over the last little while. Six years ago it was a Forward in Faith parish, complete with flying bishops and no females allowed in the sanctuary. Now it is far more inclusive.

We spoke of many things -- of serving the community, of Creeds, of scriptural authority. It's clear that Gentle Vicar is my kind of heretic! I especially respect that he was willing to come out and say "I don't always know what I believe about X" instead of skirting around the issue with a more general "many people struggle with X". It takes a certain courage to be honest and vulnerable when faced with someone who will in all likelihood pick apart any discrepancies in what you say.

And he said, "What about the Eucharist?" and so I explained pretty much all of my last post on the subject. And I said I was willing to change my mind, but from my current perspective I don't want to take Communion until a) I am allowed according to what the Church says and b) I am in a situation where it is offered unconditionally. We spoke of what "member in good standing of a Trinitarian church" actually means (answer: nearly anything if you want to be technical) and why I'm not willing to fudge on that. We spoke of what is printed in the service sheet compared to what actually happens. We spoke of the messages it sends to others if I take communion or if I don't.

Gentle Vicar doesn't turn anyone away, whether they are baptised or not, confirmed or not, or have three heads, and doesn't give a fig what canon law says about it.

He noted that I had just said, earlier in our conversation, that within the C of E confirmation is not required. Baptised children are allowed communion; I would not be fudging, by my own standards of what the church thinks it allows. I'd be an edge case in many congregants' minds, but not in canon law.

So I'm at a point where my only quibble is that the offer of welcome is not made more explicit. Given the history at Nearest Church (and I've had some hints about this from others I've spoken to, as well) I think I trust Gentle Vicar to know when to take a softly, softly approach and when to do something rash like changing the wording of the notice in the service booklet.

Being an edge case in the mind of most congregants, but not in canon law, means if I don't take Communion I appear to support the status quo, and if I do take it I appear to push the boundaries... I am in a position that is the opposite of where I thought I was. Of course, this isn't actually about what anyone else thinks, and 99% of them absolutely will not be paying attention to whether I receive a blessing or something to eat. But I value integrity and consistency of thought and deed; the messages I send and concern for what others think of me are not quite the same thing.

If I want to send the message that Communion is available to anyone who wants it, I should partake if I feel drawn to do so. Anything else is holding myself hostage from God until the Church does what I want, in much the same way as some parts of the Church attempt to hold God hostage. I can sit on my thumbs thinking up a thousand reasons why I'm not worthy, or throw myself on the Divine mercy and grace without which life would be hopeless.

...but only say the word and I shall be healed.


Ernest said...


Your journey home is nearly complete!

Taking Communion for you will join the circle and I sense, give you some feeling of completeness.

Whether you feel ready is something only you are able to answer - I believe that when you are ready you will take communion and join those of Jesus Christs body on earth, who are united in the love and worship of God and celebrate the unity of the Trinity.

In my position on my Parish Attachment, I attend more than one communion service at a time due to commitments within the services.

I am permitted to receive communion on each occasion, and despite how often, each time is new and a renewal of my membership of the body of Christ.

I will be praying that you feel able to be with us very soon.

Song in my Heart said...


I don't think this is the end of a journey... more of a waypoint. Growth and change and searching and striving must continue. Loving must continue. Discernment must continue. Seeking to do God's will on earth must continue. I don't think that refraining from taking Communion sets me apart from any of that. I don't think God offers membership in the Body of Christ only to those who are able to make a formal commitment: I think it's a de facto condition of being alive that we are invited to love and serve others on behalf of God.

A formal commitment that people recognise is something we do for people, not something we do for God. God knows our hearts anyway.

So in one sense I'm joining you, and in another sense I've been with you all along.

I don't know what I expect to feel. Taking Communion when I was younger, I just felt numb, as I did with the rest of the liturgy. I know that going up to the altar for a blessing feels special to me, and I hope that Communion will be similar.

Thanks as always for your prayers and good wishes.

Kathryn said...

"Most merciful God, your love compells us to come in"
or perhaps, more accurately,
"Love bade me welcome.......
So I did sit and eat"
Will be thinking and praying as I preside on Sunday.
"We being many are one bread, one body, because we all share in one bread"
Hugs xxxx

it's margaret said...

You sound like me running from ordination for 20 years....

God bless you Song. If you know you want to do so, you will know the time. Bless you.

Song in my Heart said...


Your thoughts, prayers and hugs are, as ever, deeply appreciated. Your commitment to welcome and hospitality has also been a huge factor in this, from my perspective.


Ack! The "O" word! Again! My automatic reaction to that is that it isn't for me, isn't my vocation. I see my place in church as tied up in the music, always, and there doesn't seem to be an ordained ministry post that involves playing the organ and directing the choir, training up musicians to lead the congregation in worship.

But even people who know me very well in person have said things along the lines of "many ordained clergy start out in the choir" which seems to be a bizarre thing to say in the context. Maybe you and others see something in me that I haven't acknowledged. In the meantime, maybe I should sort out some other details first. Like confirmation or reception or whatever it is going to be in my case.

Thank you, as always. I feel well and truly blessed.