I was 12 years old, old enough to know better. My cousin Betty Lou and I were allowed to sit together during church as long as we remained in line of sight of our parents, and didn’t whisper, giggle, or pass notes. This particular Sunday was communion, what we Baptists called the “Lord’s Supper”, and was served from a table with the words, “This do in remembrance of Me” carved on it. We never knew what communion was going to look like from one First Sunday to the next. The Welches’ grape juice in the little cups was a standard, but the bread was never the same shape twice. Once, the bread was white paper-thin wafers with a cross and other symbols embossed on it. Shades of Episcopalia! I thought I was supposed to lick the back of it and stick it on my dress like a visitor’s button. This particular Sunday we had little squares of white bread cut into crouton size.
Another difference in our communion was that one did not go up front to get it. Instead, the juice and bread was passed from row to row by the deacons, much like the offering plate. We silently congratulated ourselves on our superiority as we waited for the prayer to end before we put our empty cups in the receptacles on the pew ahead of us. All around us, we could hear the click of ignorant adults returning their cups before the minister had finished the prayer.
I was slightly distracted when the deacon approached our row with the bread. Betty Lou had bent down to get her bulletin out of her Bible which was under the pew in front of us. Taking two “croutons,” one for each of us, I silently passed the tray to the lady next to her across Bet’s back. All of a sudden she straightened up whacking the tray. Little crumbs of bread went flying everywhere! Time stood still. Then a veritable snowfall of the bread descended upon us.
It was then that the giggling started. Tiny explosions of laughter spurted from our tightly closed lips likes bursts of steam from a locomotive. Squeezing my eyes shut to stop the tears, I felt a tug on my sleeve. My cousin, overcome with laughter herself, could only point at the lady next to her. The lady had bread in her hair!
We could feel our parents approaching, worse, much worse than the wrath of God. They snatched us up and made us sit with them for over a month until they could trust us again. I still think of that communion Sunday whenever I take the Lord’s Supper, and I am sure God doesn’t mind if a smile slips out when I remember my cousin, Betty Lou and our communion misadventures.