social awkwardness in church
Well take some then!

(Please don’t misunderstand. This is a light-hearted reflection at awkward situations, not mockery towards particular people and certainly no offense taken…)

I’m laughing to myself at the things people do and the things people think, that they dare not confess for fear of being judged as either proud, stuck-up or unloving.

For example, sharing bread and wine with one another in church.

In some places when it’s referred to as The Eucharist, a priest is involved so it’s more controlled and therefore problematic occurrences rarely exist.

In other gatherings it’s called The Breaking Of Bread and this practice summons up a few complications, but not many.

Lastly, there are churches  where the name used is Communion, but even still, each congregation practices it differently, so you may still not be able to identify with the following scenarios.

Some of you however, will be giggling guiltily already.

So the bread and wine is out and you’ve been encouraged to go grab some and be sweet and loving to all you meet – except of course, the opposite sex. No huggings please, no confessing woes with the one born different from you. Keep it pure and keep your distance.

Men and women are darting around ignoring each other, not even making eye contact for fear of looking like they want to break bread with the forbidden. So women don’t smile at men and men walk by staring at the floor.

At last you’ve found many people you’re allowed to eat with and you happily share and hug share and hug.

“God bless you”‘s are swapped and little groups of twos are huddled together talking animatedly while squashing dough into the palm.

After some time, hands get hot and the token you are offered changes considerably in appearance.

It goes from a fluffy white, spongy irregular shape, to a beige clump formed into a perfect square.

Into the mouth it goes and you chew slowly. As the flavour begins to emerge on your taste-buds, a fixed grin appears on your face. They think you’re smiling at them nicely – you know you’re grimacing. For your morsel now tastes of playdoh owing to the salt from a sweaty fist.

But we all love each other so it’s shoved to the back of your throat and the same prayer you pray before consuming a dodgy-looking takeaway, is quickly offered up to the Lord.

Then someone nudges you and hands you a glass of deep red liquid. You’re semi-choking from all the carbs in your mouth so you gladly grab the glass hoping it’s not Vimto or Ribena. You put it to your mouth without a thought of who’s been at it before you. That is until you hear a hacking cough in the distance. Yes that person’s been spluttering all evening and they sound like they need a good dose of Benalyn and prayer. But it looks like they’ve just had some medicine as there’s red stuff all round their mouth…

Your tummy is now full of sticky flour but more people are pulling off bits of loaf to share with you. You gracefully accept them but your eyes suddenly notice a set of fingernails that are dirty – like the owner has been searching for diamonds in mud.

Do you  accept it? Of course! Does it go into your mouth?

“Er…well…er somebody else is approaching me and oh poor thing, she’s run out of bread. Here you are my friend, God bless you. You’ll need it.”

There’s a call the next day from the friend who claims she’s woken up feeling nauseous. “Oh dear, really? I feel fine.”

Then there is the house group scenario – a totally different saga altogether. Suddenly it’s okay for men and women to swap lumps from loaves. After all, there’s only about 15 folk in the group and it would be obvious to the point of rude if you ignore anyone.

But to go from, “Thou shalt not!” to “Thou shalt with lots of crumbs and compassion.” is very awkward indeed.

The lady stands facing the guy who is clutching a third of a wholemeal roll and she kind of swivels to the side. She’s desperately trying to remember what the ‘man/woman embrace rule’ is. Hug to the side so no sticky-out bits touch. She cautiously dumps her piece of bread into a big hand and tiptoes slightly at an angle. Her arms raise up towards his shoulder as she attempts a mock hug.

Now the male:- He is either totally relaxed in himself or slightly insecure. The man who is at ease is not bothered about being misjudged as a pervert. He knows he’s not, so up goes the arm and down it comes slap bang across her back, smothering the poor lady who was desperately trying to not let him feel any parts of her bra. He’s totally unaware of her attempts at modesty and gives her a good old brotherly squeeze.

The insecure man of nervous disposition does the opposite. A false, quivering smile emerges as he drops his blob of bread from a great height. So intent is he on not being seen to touch her fingers that the morsel flies down into her hands. He then leans his neck forward while looking in the other direction, so terrified that if he doesn’t, he might accidentally cast his eyes on something he shouldn’t.

A quick get-away is made and “Phew! That’s over!” until he realises there are another 3 ladies to go.

His spongy crust is quickly thrown back onto the table. Bran and seasame seeds fly onto the carpet. He grabs his bible and the nearest pen and searches for a blank page at the back.

“Tea and coffee anyone?”

social awkwardness in church
Er, are your hands clean?