Communion Meditation: Why do the trays pass differently the third time around?

CommunionThe men who are waiting there in the back to pass out the trays to pick up the collection are perhaps the most under-appreciated servants of the church. As they pass the trays from row to row, they try hard to be inconspicuous in their labors and not to distract from the meditations of the members. They make their highly complex work look astonishingly simple.

Now, I realize most people assume that this is mindless, repetitive work. But this is just as wrong as can be. Consider, for example, the disaster that would occur if halfway through the service all the trays wound up on one side of the pews with everyone left to serve sitting on the opposite side! The servers would have to carry the trays around the back or else sidle between the seats to deliver the trays–or skip several rows only to come back to them later.

I’ve passed trays many times myself, and I tell you, NONE of these are acceptable solutions. If you skip someone, they’ll be in a blind panic until you bring them the trays later! And they’ll assume YOU messed up, whereas THEY in fact chose to sit on the wrong side of the pew!

And no one wants to see a middle-aged man clumsily walk sideways between pews with a heavy tray of grape juice. In fact, the odds of an old guy like me spilling the juice is virtually 100%. And if you spill grape juice, you’ll be the stuff of church legend for decades! Everyone remembers FOREVER when some guy drops a tray of “fruit of the vine” only to see it roll down the aisle, spilling carpet-staining juice all the way down, while being trailed by some old guy trying to run, all stooped over–AND hoping to look inconspicuous. THAT will mess up you meditations!

Which brings me to one of the great riddles of the fine art of communion tray passing. We pass the trays three times. The first time, the guys have to work out the math. If you start this row on the right, will there be enough trays on the right when you need them? What if the other guys takes row 3 and you take row 4, will that solve the problem?

On the second pass, they guys have gotten it figured out and the trays pass smoothly.

But on the third pass–the one where we pass the collection plates–you have redo the math. You see, about HALF the people who took communion to celebrate the gifts we’ve received from Jesus don’t put any money in the collection.

On the shorter rows, they waive the servers off entirely. But even on the longer rows, the trays pass much, much faster, and the timing of the whole thing is completely thrown off. The servers have to completely rethink the process. A whole new pattern of tray passing is required for the third pass!

And so, I ask you, please–put SOMETHING in the plate. Even a dollar. Even a quarter. Something. Anything. Help these guys out. Don’t make them have to refigure how to pass these trays. Don’t put us in jeopardy of having the trays wind up on the wrong side.

Don’t be part of the 50% who get but don’t give.

Do it for the servers. Or if not for them, do it for the man whose blood and body you just shared.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink.
My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.

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2 Responses to Communion Meditation: Why do the trays pass differently the third time around?

  1. Dan says:

    I love this post!

  2. Steve says:

    Been there done that

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