I think I have written before about my dislike of wine, indeed all alcohol, which means that the only time I have alcohol is at Holy Communion. And then its just a sip. That is quite enough for me!
But then came Sunday past, when I was preaching in the Cathedral. The service was Morning Prayer with Holy Communion added at the end for those who wished to participate. Now, normally there are a lot of people who stay, but for some reason on Sunday past there weren't so many.
As always at an 11.30am Communion, there were four chalices on the Table, and the wine was consecrated. And then came the end of the service, the congregation dispersed and we went to clear the Table. Normally the Churchwardens would have the Table cleared and the wine consumed, but... not that day. An awful feeling came over me as I realised there were two chalices to be finished and two of us - Trevor the Curate, and me. Aaaaaagh!
Somehow, eventually I got the chalice finished (reverently consumed, of course) and got the rest of the clearing up done, signed the preacher's book, got changed out of my robes, and chatted to Trevor.
I'm not sure I was in a fit state for driving though (I didn't have any breakfast...), but got to Dromara ok, and as soon as I walked in, Lynsey knew straight away that I had wine on me! Boys oh...
Now, I know my Presbyterian friends will point out to terribleness of 1. using alcoholic wine, and 2. having to drink whatever has been set out, and to some extent I do agree... So why must we drink the remainder and not put it down the sink?
Surely it could be the pathway to alcoholism in the clergy, if they have to drink so much wine... or indeed, it might become a temptation for them to add a bit more wine than would be used so that they must drink it - in a respectable context and not in a shameful binge drinking way.
And this isn't a recent issue... I remember one retired clergyman telling me about when he was a young curate and had consecrated too much wine one night and finished it on his own, leading him to stagger off up the road back to the curatage. now what sort of a witness is that to outsiders, if the minister is staggering home... or worse, would be in no fit state to drive?
What if a minister (or churchwarden for that matter) caused an accident on the way home and was breathalised? Would he be let off because it was his job? Would the church provide legal assistance for him?
So, any thoughts on the Lord's Supper?