Most Sundays, after serving communion to the congregation, Pastor Kirsten and I serve one another. This is an intentional theological statement. We are servants of Christ and, by our calling, we are your servants. Servants are fed last. I find this part of the service to be very sacred.
As we “clean up” after the meal, the final act is to put the pall (the cloth covering) over the bread and wine. I can’t tell you why, but when the cloth hangs in the air for just a moment before being caught by the assisting minister, it is a very spiritual moment for me. Maybe I feel the fluttering of the wind of the Spirit at that instant. Maybe it marks the end of a deeply meaningful meal. I’m not sure what it is, but it catches me each time. We have been fed and we will now be sent out into the world to share that which we have been given.
Occasionally, and only when Pastor Kirsten is gone, I have the privilege of presiding over the Lord’s Supper. I am a Minister of Word and Service. Deacons do not generally preside over the sacraments. It is not part of our calling. However, when the opportunity comes, and in conversation and consultation with Pastor Kirsten and Bishop Kuempel, I will preside. It is an exception to the rule, which I do not take lightly.
Some had asked me why we have a note in the bulletin on the Sundays in which I preside, stating the fact that Pastor Kirsten and Bishop Kuempel have “authorized” my actions. It has never been my role or call to bring the Lord’s Supper to the congregation at a Sunday service. I have only ever done so as requested by the Pastor in his/her absence. In conversations to better define the role of Deacon in the ELCA, Holy Communion is often a trouble spot. Now that the entrance rite for Deacons has been changed to ordination, this is even more true. It raises questions about how a Deacon is different than a Pastor, especially if they are both presiding. Officially, the Pastor is a Minister of Word and Sacrament. A Deacon is a Minister of Word and Service. The note in the bulletin is one of the clear ways that we as a church say this is not Deacon Heidi’s usual role. It is overseen by the Pastor (whose role carries that responsibility) and with the acknowledgement of the Bishop so that we are always doing things in communication with one another.
Bottom Line for me is this: I am honored to be a part of this meal. And if it were only to watch the fabric wave and then fall upon the remains of the meal, I am deeply blessed in my role. I pray that you too find the places that touch your soul and bring you a glimpse of the Holy Spirit at work.
Your Servant of God,