Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ordering Communion Linens

I was sent on a mission a few weeks back to restock some of the Communion linens in the sacristy. (For my liturgically handicapped readers, a sacristy is the little room in the church that stores the candlesticks, etc., and is used as a priest's vesting room.)

In the Anglican tradition we use the same chalice for Communion, not those little Protestant shot glasses o' Jesus juice. Some churches use white wine or even sherry as it does not stain the linens as badly. I have no idea how anyone can think white wine is Christ's blood. (Perhaps the platelets of Christ, but not the blood.)

As with most places, however, we use red wine for Communion. The problem with using red wine (although I imagine the problem would be the same with grape juice) is that Communion linens tend to have a short lifespan. Wine can be gotten out of the linens, but the cleaning of them (even with that Oxyclean stuff instead of the traditional bleach or vinegar) every week wears the fabric thin.

The time had come to order some more, so that apparently fell to the Curate's "other tasks as assigned." I researched around old ecclesiastical catalogs and the internet and ordered some from some little old nuns on their website that someone recommended. Seemed simple enough, except that the company credit card had apparently not been activated correctly. What must have been an elderly nun called and said the credit card had been declined. The old nun said, "Well, I assumed it was a problem with the credit card company because surely a church wouldn't be trying to rip off a nun over Communion linens."

For some reason, I remembered that scene from an old episode of M*A*S*H where Frank Burns is temporarily in command and determined to prove that some money had been stolen, when in actuality it had been lost in a poker game. Burns drags poor Radar all over camp to inspect where the "lost" money might have been hidden. They search Father Mulcahy's tent, where Radar opens a drawer where Father Mulcahy has several ironed clerical collars and some rosaries. Radar looks horrified and says to Burns, "Do you think he stole those?...I mean if a priest is tempted to steal things, that's what he'd steal!"

I would hate to be convicted of felony larceny and fraud over Communion linens because we had inadvertently ripped off a little old nun. On the positive side, I guess St Mark's could start that prison ministry its always wanted...

1 comment:

Stephen Newell said...

You kill me, dude. You do. Just when I think you've set the bar, you top yourself.

It's highly ironic that what we Baptists use for communion is reminiscent of what gets passed around in a bar. Too hilarious.