And this sweetie peetie sat (mostly) quietly through all one and a half hours of the service that ended past his bedtime, mostly thanks to the seder dinner and its leftover matzah cracker the size of his head that kept him entertained. He also enjoyed playing with my necklace (still intact) and my eyeballs (still attached to my head) and his lift the flap, Where is Baby's Belly Button? book (all flaps still in book). I cannot oversell the magnitude of all of these victories, people.
And this sweetie peetie, mature, awesome, 11-year-old thoroughly enjoyed his first Maundy Thursday experience, asked if we could do it every year, and was a beautiful reminder that church with kids not only gets easier, but gets really, really fun.
Last night I experienced my first seder meal. The sanctuary was rearranged to make room for tables so that all 170+ of us there could share a meal at tables of 8-10 people. It was a learning experience for our whole family and such a special night for Audrey and Elliot to take communion for the first time.
We dipped parsley in salt water, ate a hard-boiled egg as our appetizer, and enjoyed matzah with horseradish and honey, celery, lamb, and charoset, along with grape juice. I appreciated learning the history behind the meal and felt so close to Christians all over the world and throughout time as we sat there and shared a meal that has been eaten for centuries.
After the meal we transitioned to Jesus' instructions about Holy Communion. Again, the beauty and timelessness of the traditions just settled into my bones. (I couldn't get too sentimental about the whole thing because Asher decided this was a fine time to lean over my seat to try to reach the pew next to us so he could get an "ah-dee-dah," which is his word for any writing implement.) Elliot and Audrey just took the communion class on Wednesday, then we spent part of school on Thursday reading and comparing the different stories of the Last Supper in the four books of the Gospel. Elliot found this particularly fascinating, so throughout the church service he would lean over and say, "This is just like what it said in the Bible." . . . "I just read this today!". . . "Doesn't this sound so familiar?!" It was the sweetest.
The kids taking their first communion and their families were called up to the front and given bread that the kids baked on Wednesday. Then each child got wine in a cup that they got to take home that was painted by a high schooler from church. It was just beautiful. Elliot forgot to say Amen, but Pastor Vera reminded him and both kids stuck their tongues out and looked absolutely disgusted after drinking the wine. They tried it at the class, but apparently it's just as nasty the second time. Audrey said she will never have it again and Elliot will try again in one month, but if he doesn't like it, back to juice he'll go.
|The kids with Pastor Vera. Note the matching red cowgirl boots.|
After they took their communion, they passed out the bread and wine to the different tables around the room. They felt very fancy and important! Everyone shared communion at their tables. We sang a few songs and prayed. Then at the end of the service it was time to strip the altar. Pr. Vera gave us some background information on why this is done. The altar signifies Jesus' body and his body was stripped and beaten, therefore our altar must be bare, too. It shows how he was treated and how he was left to die. Someone started beating a drum in that rhythmic beat that always reminds me of war. Death. Destruction. The first communion kids went back up and helped carry all of the beautiful pieces off of the altar. The candles. The cloth. The bible. The bible holder. They carried them to a back room and came back for more until it was empty.
And empty it shall remain today, Good Friday.
And tomorrow, Holy Saturday.
As we remember all that was given for us. The pain and humiliation. The destruction and lies. The death of our savior.
But not Sunday. Sunday everything changes.
But, for now, we sit in this darkness, with this bare altar, remembering. Waiting.