Avoiding a Swim in the Chalice

I gotta say, attending a service in a church with a spectacular pipe organ and NO MUSIC is like being offered a frosting-less cupcake when there’s a bowl of amazing looking icing sitting RIGHT THERE.

Pleeeeeeeease may I have some?


Christ Church is a gorgeous old (1870) church – okay, gorgeous on the inside, remarkably blah on the outside. I went to the 8am service on this day in 2015 (this post came up in my FB feed as a memory so I decided to save it) with the idea that if we DO buy this house in this seaside town (no, we’re not moving, we’re looking at helping Blondie buy a triplex there) it would be good to know a few people in the community. Spoiler: we bought the house. It’s lovely. And a money pit. But I digress.

As per my prior adventures in church visits, this one didn’t go flawlessly either, but thankfully for the most part the joke wasn’t on me – other than my standing with my hymnal open and ready as the interim rector, two assistant rectors and two deacons filed silently in (this is not a big church, what the heck?)

First, the candle lighting for advent.  Lovely to see them including the differently-abled, a bit unnerving to watch someone with advanced Parkinson’s wielding the flame to the wreath.  (I’m a little wiggy about fire to begin with – probably resulting from having to evacuate in the middle of the night shortly after arriving in the US – that’s another story.)

Okay, ready for my hymn!  Let’s fire up dem pipes!

Deflated like a popped balloon.  It’s a real tease to give out the same bulletin for both morning services then skip over the music in the first service.  And with the number of people on the altar, NONE of them can whack out a tune?

Still waiting to hear someone who can out-sermon our rector at home.  Their interim rector did her best and was earnestly discussing St. Augustine when, completely out of context, she started giggling.

The 18 or so congregants shifted a little uneasily.  Um…well, at least I wasn’t the only one who didn’t get the joke.

She tried to recover herself, but turned the page on her notes and lost it completely.  

She then held up her notes.  “Well!  In trying to be eco-conscious, it seems I printed my sermon on the same side of the paper that had already been used.”

On the positive side, that was the shortest sermon I think i’ve ever heard.

On to communion.  Unngh, this is always a little unnerving in an unfamiliar church, they all have their little quirks.  Fortunately, sitting at the back, I was able to get a feel for what they referred to in the bulletin as the “dip & sip”.  


One line to dip, one line to sip.  I had to close one eye to re-read that, it sounded so odd…but yes.  (In the government we have what’s officially called the Plain Writing Act…much in the same vein, I guess, as not referring to the ‘dip line’ as “for those who prefer indinction”.  

Every year in my review I get a comment about how I need to improve my compliance with the PWA.  Every year I nod obediently then proceed to ignore it.)

So, as I’ve had two colds so far this season, I’d better be a dipper.  Sadly, however, they use bread chunks rather than wafers.

Okay, not chunks so much as triangular crumbs.  Given they were hand-cut, they were of varying sizes and as I approached the priest, I was mentally blaring “Gimme the big piece!  Gimme the big piece!”

D’OH!  Not only was it roughly 1/8″ across, two of the little corners were crumbly.  Jesus was going swimming for sure.

How DOES one retrieve the Host after dropping half of it in the chalice?  It seems…well…rude to fish it out with your fingers, and I don’t generally carry a clean teaspoon with me to the altar.  

I mean…I could…but that’s maybe a little weird.  “Oh, don’t mind me, I’ll just skim my crouton outta this wine soup…” (SLURRRRP)

So I approached the dipper chalice (why would you have the dipper significantly smaller than the sipper?  Maybe because you don’t need as much? – but as a result it requires a tighter grip on the bread as you have to do a vertical dip as opposed to just swiping it across the surface) gingerly holding the disintegrating morsel, not wanting to pick it up until the very last second.

Mercifully, the corner held.

At the end, as they recessed, I had an incredible urge to sing the recessional a capella, organ be damned.  I did keep a lid on it though.

And a nice touch at the end – they gave me a welcome bag with a bar of chocolate in it. Didn’t make up for the lack of music, but still nice.

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