The Miracle Whip Jar

In the cabinet in the sacristy where we keep the wine and wafers for Holy Communion locked up there is a Miracle Whip jar.  I am no expert on Miracle Whip jars, but I suspect that this is an old one.  At least 30 years old.  Probably more in the neighborhood of 40 years old.  Possibly 50 years old.

It does not have mayonnaise in it any longer, in case you’re worried.

When a package of Communion wafers is opened but not all of them are needed for that Sunday’s consecration, the remainder are put in this jar to keep them as fresh as possible.  Frankly, this to me is an oxymoron, as there are few things in this world as un-fresh as Communion wafers.  The  irony is more than tragic,  in my opinion.

So for 30, or 40, or 50 years, the people who set up Communion for my congregation have used this jar.  This jar pre-dates my pastorate considerably.  There is a possibility the jar is older than I am.  But I almost invariably smile when I unlock the cabinet and see it there.

It’s a reminder to me.  This is not my church.  As pastor, I don’t own this place, I don’t get to dictate what happens here.  In matters of theology and practice I of course have a distinct voice.  Not infallible, though.  Not necessarily.  But in other matters of the life of the church and the future of the congregation, I am not the one who should call the shots.  This congregation has been around since 1915.  They have had a variety of pastors, some better and some worse, depending on who you ask.  I pray to be one of the better ones but also realize that I am always a slipped word,  an angry outburst, a prideful disdain away from becoming one of the worst.

I came to serve and I continue to serve, as our Lord served his disciples, washing feet – even the feet of the one who would shortly betray him.  I have my ideas about things, my dreams and hopes and worries and visions  for this place and these people.  But my first job is to serve.  To serve as long as God keeps me here.  As long as the people will have me.  As long as I’m physically and mentally and spiritually able to.  Not in a glorious way, always, but in a necessary one.  Like an old empty mayonnaise jar.  Knowing that, barring some monumental mistake, there will be another man in my office someday, another man opening the sacristy cupboard.  Just as there were other men before me opening and closing the lid on that jar.

May whatever  the future holds be pleasing to God and a blessing to his people – past, present, and future.  And whether my ideas carry the day or someone else’s, may I keep perspective with the help of an old mayonnaise jar and continue to do my job as faithfully as I can.

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