The Communion of Saints

“Will those assisting with communion please come forward.”

Steven approached and received one of the silver cups from the pastor, taking his place at the left station. He saw the same faces every time he helped with communion. Leland Dean, in the front row, hobbled forward in line. He was an Elder and utterly convinced that evangelism meant greeting people at the door, as if anyone just “dropped in” at church these days. A few rows back, Tony and Cheryl Sherman started to gather up their five children to get in line. Every time Cheryl spoke with Steven’s wife, she insinuated that a married woman’s ministry was her kids, and Tony nudged him in the rib and asked about Steven’s plumbing. Behind them, Tristan leaned forward in his chair as if in deep prayer. He was the poster child for youth ministry, on the worship team, a counselor at summer camp, a straight A student. Money burned a whole in his pocket and through his credit card. The younger kids loved Mrs. Terri Wendall and waved at her as she walked up to receive communion. Steven had only discovered last week that she had had her first child outside of marriage.

One by one, the members of the congregation stood before him, full of white-washed sins, and solemnly waited for the cup. To each Steven offered the cup and declared what they most needed: “The blood of Christ, given for the forgiveness of sins.”

Sarah Timmerson, an older lady, stood before him. Her son was in jail again. He raised the cup and proclaimed her forgiveness. She touched his arm. “God bless you, Steven.”

The simple words struck him hard. For an instant, Steven stood looking after her. He felt as if he should give the words back, but he hadn’t the grace to manage it. The next person waited for him. He looked at the silver cup in his hand, at the wine like blood. Not his blood. He trembled as he offered it.

After the service, Steven told the pastor that he was no longer be able to assist with communion.

This was an early flash fiction that never quite worked. I tried to tweak the wording this time around. We’ll see if it helped.

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Comments

  1. Whoa, I knew I had fallen behind in reading your Flash Fictions, but I hadn’t realized I was this behind. Well, here goes….

    This does seem more effective than the previous version. If I remember right, the implication I got before was that Steven felt he couldn’t continue serving because he deemed the church was full of hypocrites. This version more strongly implies that Steven felt convicted of his own judgmentalism. Was that the intended effect?

  2. There is good in it, I think. I hope the Pastor convinces him to walk in grace and serve God when he is weak! If I had to wait to be perfect before I could serve Him, I think I’d miss out on a lot. Nice one, Nick.