I was privileged recently to attend the installation of a friend of mine in an endowed chair of spiritual theology at a well-known Protestant seminary in Chicago.
The installation was built into a Protestant communion service that gave me a chance to say, “And also with you,” rather than, “And with your spirit.” Right from the get-go, I knew I wasn’t among Catholics: these people really knew how to sing hymns. But true to my Catholic upbringing, I just kind of mouthed the words and hummed along. For Catholics, hymns are just distractions between prayers, but Protestants pray when they sing.
After the Gospel reading, my friend gave a wonderful installation address called “The Monk and His Marbles,” after which we started the communion part of the service. The presider made it clear that everyone was welcome at communion, but I also read the parenthetical comments about communion in the program. The cup on the left, we were told, was wine, and the cup on the right was pure, organic California grape juice.
After that, I read one of the more outlandish sentences ever to find its way into a liturgical program. “The Body of Christ,” it announced, “is gluten free.”
As I told a liturgist friend of mine, I couldn’t even come up with anything clever to say about that statement. Can you imagine the sense of humor Jesus must have?