Today, I sat at the back of the church I was visiting. It was a Church of England church which meant that we had to go up to the front for communion. Since I was at the back I had to wait for the front rows to go up to communion.
The children came back into the service from the groups they had been in during the sermon and, accompanied by their group leaders went up to the front to receive a blessing. They were given a small piece of the communion waver and then they returned to their groups.
As they went passed us one of the young girls called out to her father who was sitting next to me (and who had been commenting to me throughout the service, almost apologising for his daughter’s loudness). When his daughter left, he turned to me and explained ‘She’s excited because she was given a piece of the bread.’
I commented that it was always better when kids were involved in a service. I’m not sure he understood what I meant, he may have been worried about a strangers apparent interest in children being in the service.
I guess what I meant was here I was, about to take part in communion and I knew that I wasn’t anywhere near as excited or interested in it as that child had been. Moments before I had been considering my theological stand on the use of wafers instead of bread and considering whether this wine would be the same kind of communion wine that made me dizzy.
Then a child had appeared, hardly able to stand still because she was so excited to go to the front of the church and then so pleased to receive the bread that she had to tell her father about it straight away.
She was only young, perhaps didn’t fully understand the significance of what she was doing, but she knew it was a big deal, knew it was something to be excited about, something that gave her joy, something that needed to be shared.
And there I was, fully understanding, years of study and thought and discussion behind me and yet I was not experiencing that joy.
And which story is more interesting to hear? The one told in excitement or the one told with theological accuracy?