Adjusting. Adjusting to new norms, beliefs, values, and how they might be quite different from my own, has been part of our daily routine. Adjusting to what, at times, just doesn’t feel right, is a regular part of lives right now. I was again reminded a few weeks back, of how myopic my thinking can be at times because I see with a lens cultured with limited viewpoints, making this adjustment challenging. Sitting in church that morning, my cultural background collided with the culture of another world. The end of church service was approaching and we were enjoying the blessed time of Communion. The ushers were guiding the church body up to the front to receive the sacraments, by section. A bit of confusion resulted in escorting the congregants to the front, and the section I was sitting in never get released to receive the bread and wine.
The pastor may have sensed that the congregation had been served very quickly or perhaps his announcement was routine, but either way, he graciously asked if anyone did not receive communion who wanted to do so. I spied glances to the left and right to see if I had been napping and missed our section’s call to the front, but I quickly saw that indeed, no one had the bread and wine. My immediate thought was to raise my hand and then go to the front and receive the sacraments, letting the Pastor know that our rows had been accidently skipped.
Feeling the need to answer his question and go forward, I instead took a breath and paused for a moment. During that brief moment, a thought came to mind. I decided to wait and see and observe what was going on. It took considerable effort to hold back, since in my view, it needed to be corrected, and right now, or we were going to miss out on Communion. The pastor was asking if anyone had been missed, but silence was the only response given by everyone around me. It seemed so unnatural, so wrong.
Communion continued on as we celebrated what Christ has done for us, even though our rows had missed out on receiving the elements. With Communion complete, I began to ponder what had just happened. During the moment, I had viewed the situation as a simple oversight that needed to be addressed, so we could enjoy communion together. But as I began to really think about what had happened, I began to understand a new perspective. Did the rows of those seated around me really miss out on Communion because they didn’t have the wine and bread to symbolize the blood and body of Christ? No, they had enjoyed communion just the same without the elements, while doing something very gracious. Their silence was a way of honoring the young pastor who was presiding over Communion. The Communion had not flowed as it normally did because of the ushering, and yet, it was not worth making an awkward scene for the pastor and a distraction to the rest of the church body. Collectivism, instead of individualism, was being displayed that morning. Instead of potentially embarrassing the Pastor and those who were ushering, they remained silent to honor him and bless the whole church body. A respect for authority displayed by the group outweighed the desire for their individual needs to be met.
My thoughts swirled about me for some time after that Communion Sunday. My individualistic world view had come face to face with another world view, reminding me how deeply seated and shaped I am by the cultural norms into which I was born.
Thank You, God, for teaching me something new about myself and the new country in which I live.
A forever learning servant of Christ,