When Krystal asked Adrianna and me if we wanted to help with communion, we thought it would be like collecting offering--except that we would be giving snacks instead of taking money. "Sure," we said, envisioning ourselves smiling generously as we held emblem-laden trays for aging ladies.
So we were in for an unfortunate surprise when we got to the church this evening. After we were ushered into a back room and given program cards (mine was inexplicably marked "Serena W."), we sat in a circle of confusion. Every so often, someone would be called up to a chair in the corner and, after a robe was slung around their shoulders, a lady armed with brushes and an incredibly bright light would attack their face with makeup. A girl poked my arm. "Do we have to have that?" she whispered.
"Dude. I hope not." I glanced down at the paper: Elders STAND when TIM gives signal. Pass out emblems to DEACONS. SIT when S signals. Who was "S"?
"Uh. . . Krystal?"
"Are we. . . elders?"
"Are we. . . deacons?"
"Yes. . ."
"Are we both?"
"I--I'm not sure."
"Are they going to explain this to us?"
After about fifteen minutes, a lady--who turned out to be the mysterious "S"--walked us through the program. "You'll be sitting up front," she began. "And the people on the outside of each section--1 and 4 on this side, so that would be Preston and Serena--pass out the emblems to the deacons in their area. The people in the middle pass the trays to those on the outside." She began a complicated explanation of how to walk in, when to sit, how to carefully uncover the stacks of trays without exploding the contents, and how to line the decorative crosses up for the camera. "Make sure, when you break the bread, that you don't wipe the crumbs on your pants!" I scribbled notes on my paper and snuck worried glances at Adrianna.
We entered in a line, with me bouncing on my toes and clutching my note-etched program. We sat sort-of in unison. I worked to keep a calm, pleasant look on my face, and I thought I was doing a good job--until I spotted an elderly lady in the congregation. Her arms moved jerkily and her teal shirt hung limply on her thin frame. When she saw me watching, her face lit up and, putting her fingers in a peace sign, she moved them up her face, a grin following as if she were drawing it there. I blinked in confusion, then gave her a timid smile. She beamed at me with glee and nodded to her friend as if to say, "See? Not all young people are completely stupid."
Keeping the awkward smile on my face, I glanced at the people near me. Kevinn sat solemnly, watching the scripture reading. The woman to my right gazed into the distance, surely in deep contemplation. No one else was smiling. My lips began to twitch. Finally, we stood to pass trays to the deacons and my eyes inadvertently returned to the lady. She grinned at me again. Sighing, I repositioned the smile and looked down at the tray in my hands. As I handed it to the first woman on the pew, I remembered the words on my hand. The hastily scribbled note stood out in dark blue ink, resistant to soap and my scrubbing efforts. I tried to smile generously as I handed her the tray. This was not at all like collecting offering.