Thursday, July 20, 2006

hands

I make note of this every Sunday when I distribute communion at church. People come to the altar rail and kneel (most of them), and extend their hands to receive the wafer. Their palms are facing up, and often the hands are cupped to some degree, one resting on the other. But the gesture is essentially the same--open supplication. What always strikes me during these moments is the variety of the hands and their postures. Young children sometimes can barely reach their arms up over the rail, so their fingers are pointing up toward me. They are the most eager, and the smile that radiates from their expectant faces reflect the joy of being part of the feast. They almost always make eye contact with me, and I am grateful for the opportunity to smile back at them in welcome as I give to them the body of Christ. Other hands extend forward while heads are bowed deeply such that I don't see the face of the communicant. Still other hands are gnarled and disfigured with arthritis or disease, and it is these hands, particularly, that move my heart. So often people want to present an image of perfection at church, that to see offered the raw reality of someone's physical condition is humbling. These are moments that I wish everyone could witness, since I think it would help remind us all that the playing field is truly leveled, and that we are all there in the glory of our individual imperfections seeking wholeness and grace. I suppose that for the time being it can be one of the ways that I am reminded of how God is at work in my own life and heart, and continue my prayers for the people I serve.

3 comments:

samtzmom said...

How very lovely friend... yes we are all in need of wholeness and grace and are never more aware of that than when we lift up our hearts to him. I am so glad that feeding others in this way feeds you in many special ways as well.

Pam in Moncton said...

You put that in such a fine way. I (and a good part of my United Church congregation) attended an Anglical Church a few months ago during the Week of prayer for Christian Unity, so I can picture very clearly the image you describe. Communion was given at the rail there too (it isn't in my church) and we were all made welcome to this common feast. I remember looking down the row of hands and being struck by the look of them, and how much more meaningful to see you describe it from your point of view.
Pam

Gail said...

Really, Anne, you could make a lot of money publishing your writing. You always have such a way with words.
Gail

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