Monday, March 10, 2008
all creation groans for its redemption...and I mean all of it
Yesterday during worship as people were taking communion and returning to their seats, some of them encountered the acolyte coming back into church through the side door, in his robe and everything. The acolyte is supposed to stand "at attention" at the head of the aisle in the nave in order to make sure that everyone gets a communion glass for communion. Why was he coming in from the outside in the middle of worship?
Once we had concluded the service and he could be questioned about this peculiar activity, it was discovered that he was outside because he had found a large spider in the rack of communion glasses and wanted to get rid of it by releasing it in the yard. So as not to disturb anyone by his discovery, he stuck it in his pocket--without squishing it, I assume--and snuck outside. Upon arriving there, he determined that it was too cold and snowy to release a spider into a natural environment, so he placed the spider back in his pocket and brought it back inside. Unwilling to deposit the friendly intruder where other people might see it, he then released the spider up at the altar after communion was over. It was there, I suppose he figured, that the spider could live in reconciliation with its surroundings.
I'm fairly certain that the acolyte did not choose the altar on purpose (rather, it just happened to be a convenient, less-traveled area), but the symbolism of his gesture of freedom and release is still potent. We speak of the resurrected Jesus as the consummations of God's new creation. We speak of the foretaste of his feast as the time toward which we look when all of creation will be gathered, reconciled, and released in the freedom of the Spirit so that we may be that which we were fashioned to be. Sometimes, I fear, Holy Communion becomes "just another part of worship," so it's nice to have concrete reminders of what we are proclaiming at the meal every Sunday at this meal, even if they comes from an unlikely arachnid.