For the fourth time since Easter, I prepare to take Communion in place with my fellow communicants and the Celebrant of Trinity Church. I've got a wine glass and a plain white saucer trimmed in gold. I have a bottle of port wine that I use, a leftover from a Christmas recipe. I have saltines. After pouring about a fourth of a cup of port into the wine glass, I set it on the table alongside the saltine on the saucer. My kitchen table has become an altar. As video appears on the laptop screen, the altar is inscribed "This do in remembrance of me," and "QWERTY."
Today I have invited three people to join me. The first politely declines, citing yardwork to do and impending rain this afternoon. A tropical storm named Cristobal (the Christ-bearer) is to blame.
The second person I invite also declines, but first, he's incredulous that we are still sheltering in place rather than meeting inside our building. I note that our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Kee Sloan, has given us a schedule he thinks will guard our safety as we ease back into meeting together. My invitee shakes his head, pronounces us "ridiculous," and leaves to drive 20 miles to the church of his choice.
The third invitee turns me down too, after explaining that he had wished to attend church today, but had to clean his back porch instead. He notes that he has asked many people about the communion-in-place practice, and all have roundly condemned it. "You can't just have communion wherever. You're supposed to do that in church." I point out that we are the Church, and besides, our homebound bread and wine have been consecrated. The Bishop has okayed this. My fellow Christian says an Episcopal bishop bashed the president.
The front door opens. Two dogs come in, a yellow Lab and a chocolate Lab/catahoula mix. They stop near the table and lie down on the cool tile floor, panting a little, and quietly alert. The yellow one stretches out, relaxed, with his long hind legs extended. The beautiful mix tucks his front paws and gazes serenely at the wall.
In spite of audio problems, the sermon comes through loud and clear. I recite my part of the Prayers of the People, the responses to Eucharistic Prayer A, and the Lord's Prayer. I know them all by heart. When it is time to take Communion, I break off a piece of my saltine (the Bread of Heaven) and sip the wine (the Cup of Salvation.) The service ends with "Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia," and I clear away the saucer. I remember not to throw the leftover wine down the sink and drink what is left.
The Old Testament text and the context for the sermon today rings in my head, and not because of the extra wine. God made them, according to their kind.