Life In The Hard Scrabble Village

villageBefore you spend the new found coin on candy at the store beside the church or better yet, drop it reluctantly in the collection plate, spend a moment in inquiry with the Lord.

I had kept a half closed eye focused on the quandary in my mind, keenly aware of the pebble at my knees. My prayer was intense, perhaps more so as I had never seen the ushers make change from such a deposit. I asked the Lord if He had any reservations to my honesty. The pebble by my knees seemed to favor me leaning towards the right. My Amen was a split decision.

As you whisper to the usher, his face a revealing mask, about a unwieldy matter of some import, give due consideration that your request to him, borders on heresy. Be advised therefore that your desire to have your communion wafer of bread with ketchup may be cause for your excommunication.

Life in the hard scrabble village is bread without butter, bun without cheese, roasted breadfruit with a pinch of salt, and if you have been good, then a tear of salt fish or pickled mackerel is a generous lot. How dare you behave unseemly, to want to make the communion, which is a reminder of suffering, into a lip smacking feast?

I hadn’t explained it right to the usher, or he misunderstood my desire to make a twofold gift. The new found coin, and my unfulfilled taste for candy, has left me with a clear choice.

Perhaps, it was unorthodox to add my condiments to what some thought should be a sparse and austere occasion. Call my behavior unbiblical as the jaundice stare of a church elder held me to be a sinner not yet saved by grace.

I beg to differ. Indeed, I wish to stand on a point of order and ask for a tall glass of lemonade with ice in place of the pretend wine so that the grumble in my stomach and in my mind will be replaced with a belch.

But I won’t push the envelope across the table all at once. Suffice it to say, I’ll come to the communion next time with a few more packets of ketchup and a tumbler to replace the thimble.

The way the elder looked at me it was as if I was supposed to know my place to accept the crumbs served and the almost overflowing thimble of someone else’s idea of sufficiency. I felt a righteous indignation shooting up to my ears as if I had drank the local rum without adding the required water to make an ugly face. And at that moment, I hollered out an Hallelujah as I felt the Emanuel.

If a man had bound us fast with a chain, we would struggle to be free, or maybe not. We sometimes like to show the world the scars and chains we bear.

When the usher comes next week, I’ll have my candy and a prepared coin. Fish and bread are on the horizon. Communion should be a renewal of faith and a commitment to explore His sufficiency. I’ll have a few extra packets of ketchup, for sure.

Peter Peterkin, Readers Bureau, Fellow

Edited by Jesus Chan

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