The Meenister’s Log
The mini-bus came to a halt in the church car park in this beautiful rural part of Scotland, and out came a dozen members of a “Christian Youth Group” unexpected and unprepared for. And it happened to be a Sunday when Holy Communion was being celebrated.
I noticed that a couple of our visitors had slight learning difficulties.
During the sermon, one could be heard saying to the Group Leader, “when do we get the coffee?”
“Hush – afterwards”
Then, the Communion…… these small individual glasses… the same voice from the body of the kirk: “Is that it? Where’s the coffee?”
One of his pals at least had the courtesy to raise his glass in a toast and say”Cheers!”
In my first year in my very first congregation, on the Thursday of Holy Week I visited several members of my flock who were housebound. to give them Holy Communion. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I recalled that the celebrant – in this case, myself , had to finish off what was left of the “consecrated” wine (not in fact a Presbyterian practice). So, back at he manse, the afternoon’s exercise finished, I chugged back more than half a bottle of cheap fortified wine……….
…….. in parenthesis: in student days, a pal got a day job during the University holidays, working in an off-sales booze shop in a kind of insalubrious area of Glasgow. This down-and-out came in one day, asking for a bottle of “Thunderbird”
“Red or White, Sir?”
“Disnae matter, son, it’s awe wan” came the connoisseur’s answer………
…….. so, having polished off his warm, sticky, sickly uber-alcoholic cheapo pant-stripper, I then set off to be the guest preacher at the local Episcopalian Church for its Maunday Thursday evening service.
I truly cannot remember what I preached about …. and perhaps just as well.
Fast forward many years… and it was the custom of one of my Kirk Sessions to create a “cocktail” of the dregs of previous Communion wines, mixing an assortment of previous “left-overs” into one bottle (and, yes, it tasted foul)
The day following Communion was known as “skitters Monday” amongst those who has partaken of the Sunday’s Sacrament.
A drunk staggered down the main street of the town. Somehow he managed to make it up the stairs to a cathedral and into the entrance, where he crashed from pew to pew, finally making his way to a side aisle and into a confessional.
A priest had observed all this, and figured the fellow needed some help, so he entered his side of the confessional. After the priest sat there in deathly silence, he finally asked, “May I help you, my son?”
“I dunno,” came the drunk’s voice from behind the partition. “You got any toilet paper on your side?”
Visiting Parishioners some years ago in an old fashioned “Nightingale Ward” I came came across a particular gentleman who was notorious for overindulgence in a “wee refreshment” on the regular basis .
Our visit was just about over when he asked me to go to an off-sales same five minutes away to buy him a bottle of whisky. Despite my protestations, he insisted on pressing a ten pound note into my hand – and added, cryptically, “And a bottle of Irn Bru for yourself”
So, here’s this wee meenister, resplendent in dog-collar, sneakily smuggling a bottle of Bells (and a small plastic bottle of Scotland’s other national drink) back into the Ward whence he came.
“Right! Get that down you,” he said, indicating the warm soft drink.
“Just a sip, perhaps?”
“The lot!” sounding almost belligerent.
So there I am in suit and dog collar standing, surrounded by other curious patients, chugging on a bottle of Irn Bru.
I eventually finished it and was about to throw the empty plastic bottle into the waste bin, when he grabbed it out of my hand and deftly and steadily refilled it with some of his whisky.
Taking an almighty slug followed by a ferocious burp – he wheezed “Cheers! See you next week” [then, somewhat ominously, “if not before}
If anyone had found out that I’d been involved in such bootlegging, I surely would have been “uncorked” by the Kirk Authorities!