Over the last couple of weeks, it has been my privilege to be at the ordination of a couple of friends as priests in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Though merely a member of the congregation, on both occasions, I was there to offer my support in events which marked important stepping stones in their journeys of faith and calling.
Being a service in the SEC, there was communion. As I watched those gathered going up to receive the elements, virtually everyone kneeled. I struggle to kneel, though I don't look like someone who would. Though I know I don't have to kneel, I did not want to look disrespectful, so made the decision I wouldn't go to receive communion.
Which is where others, who don't realise I am attempting to be respectful, may draw the wrong conclusions, and I suppose I have to live with that, keeping a focus on thinking I was trying to do the right thing. I wonder if they maybe thought it wasn't communion or I was being disrespectful? Oh, the maze of trying to be sensitive to others, while realising there's sometimes I won't win, whatever I do. These were among those times.
Among those gathered were some who obviously couldn't go up the the altar to receive communion - those in wheelchairs, with walking frames etc. The stewards asked each one of those if they would like communion brought to them. While I am delighted this happened, it was interesting this offer was only made to those with outward signs of infirmary. Which makes me wonder, how many others did not look as though they would struggle to go up to the altar to receive communion, but would struggle and, due to conclusions made, were not asked if they wished communion brought to them.
Just for the record, I was more interested in the judgement calls which were made by the stewards, rather than anything else. I suppose I am concerned there are those who feel they aren't allowed to go up to receive communion (and may need gentle encouragement) or have a unseen reason that going up to receive communion at the altar is difficult.
I know we all make assumptions about things, this has been a learning process for me, to consider how we make assumptions in the church, and how to allow all to worship, without being pushy or patronising.