Warning - this has nothing to do with Christmas or Advent or exams!
At New College, there's a tradition that candidates in training (for all flavours of church) can lead one of the weekly communion services in their final year of academic study. I'm not sure when this 'tradition' began, but I suspect not everyone got a shot a few years ago, as the number of candidates would have outstripped the number of communions. So, is it really traditional or the Church of Scotland sort of traditional (do it once, it's new; do it twice, it's traditional).
I've missed those regular communions a wee bit this semester, as I've not been in Edinburgh on a Thursday. Transport's expensive enough without having to travel more than necessary (so I've not missed it that much). It does mean I have missed a few of my peers leading this service.
What I find odd about asking the candidates to lead the communion service is we can't do the hand wriggles yet. So, (and I don't know the precise sketch in how this works) there needs to be a real minister there too. Which sort of defeats the purpose, in my head. Could we not just lead a service san communion? At least that would be open to those in the community who, for whatever reason, cannot take communion.
But, for me that isn't the crux of the issue. No, it's the signal to the rest of the New College community that those who are studying for the same degree as others, taking the same courses, revising for the same exams, are different from those who aren't training for ministry. I've only known of one non-candidate lead the service, but their Dad's a minister. Seems like a bit of bias.
Also, I really don't want to lead worship in front of my peers. With no where to hide (I do like being behind the communion table or in the pulpit, then you can't see just how nervous I actually am). At uni, everyone's a little bit too close, a little bit too knowledgeable. Frankly, I'd rather preach above Robert the Bruce's tomb.
Then, I know there's a bit of peer pressure about leading the service. Back at the beginning of semester I mentioned to a couple of people I didn't want to do it and they were all like, 'but you have to.' When I asked why the rational was everyone else does. Oh, that's a good excuse. Remind me not to follow you to a cliff edge! Being the sort of person who will not do something 'because,' that argument did not change my mind.
And finally, I'd like to set a precedence that it's okay to say 'no, thank you' when the invitation to lead the communion service is extended. To my mind, it seems it's grown/morphed into a privilege to be asked into an expectation that the candidates will do (not by New College, but by the collective mindset). So, this year I am breaking with tradition.