Holiness in our Midst: Session 92

Holiness in our Midst


Story Circle Prompt: Recall a memorable Communion service.

The Coronavirus has so upended my daily life that there is a clear dividing line (MSNBC Anchor Brian Williams calls it “a fence”) between life before the virus and life thereafter. Hence, I have a pre-virus answer in recalling a memorable Communion service and an after-virus one.

My B.V. (Before the Virus) answer might be titled The Milk of Human Kindness. It was a Sunday morning at LaSalle Street Church in downtown Chicago in the mid-Eighties. The church staff, known for living out its social justice mission, frequently invited national leaders. That morning, Pastor Bill Leslie had just introduced our guest, Christian author Walt Wangerin, one of my favorite storytellers. Suddenly, the door to the sanctuary opened and a disheveled woman carrying a brown paper shopping bag came down the center aisle, headed straight for the altar and placed a carton of milk next to the bread and “wine” (grape juice) set out for Communion. I was sitting on a pew next to the pulpit, having led a litany based on one of his stories. Being on the worship committee there had its perks: I had an unimpeded view of the congregants, who were looking around wildly and wondering how our speaker would handle the unusual situation. Rev. Wangerin, without missing a beat, lovingly welcomed the woman and wove the phrase, “the milk of human kindness and compassion,” into his talk several times. When Dr. Leslie blessed the elements for Communion that day, he also lifted the carton of milk to be blessed by God. During that Holy Communion, we all felt the barriers broken down between race, class and creed.   

My A.V. (After the Virus) answer might be titled Zoom Room Communion. First Christian Church in Ames began meeting through Zoom technology on March 15. In one of the first Zoom Room worship services, Pastor Mary Jane Button-Harrison reminded us about securing Communion elements. I grabbed Diet Cherry 7-Up and Anderson Erickson Raspberry Yogurt from my refrigerator before the formal service began. I was “prepared” for Communion, but not for the strong connections I felt as we shared “the bread and the cup” together. During that Communion, former Pastor David Digby wrote these words in the online Chat Room:

Communion in Covid, 

O’er the Waves of the Web, 

Unhindered by Space or Wall

Community in Christ, 

Celebrate we All. 

(Used by permission)

In announcing the first online service, Pastor Mary Jane wrote: “Let’s think of (utilizing technology) as an adventure in faith. We’ll all learn something in the process.” What I have learned from gathering online is the visceral realization that our church is not the building. Our church is our unshakeable bonds solidified through ongoing community service, companionable friendship and deep faith.



  1. Read the above reflection. In your journal, recall a communion service. What made it memorable? 



  1.   Read aloud Session XCII.
  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt. 

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Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

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