Monday 16th April, 2001: Communion for the last time as a Lutheran

I am, of today, officially unemployed. Thankfully it is only for a week and then I start on my other jobs. I've just completed my first Easter in perhaps 14 or 15 years (I can't remember when I first took an Easter Vigil service out at St Marks at Underdale, but it was either 1986 or 1987) and I have just completed my first Easter since then without taking any services whatsoever. Mind you, yesterday, after getting back after drinks after the Vigil at Father Pritchard's parish in Ringwood, I got to sleep at about two in the morning. Then we woke up at quarter past four with Mia wide awake, so we stayed up and went to the 6:30am dawn service at St Paul's. Fraser was preaching.

I communed this morning for the last time as a Lutheran. At the door coming out, I said to [P.], who had communed me with the chalice, "You will commune me again. This is a prophecy. One way or another it will happen." I think I would describe it a little more as a prayer. Or a hope.

So after hot-cross buns we went home and packed, and got down here to the family's holiday house at Cowes on Philip Island at about two o'clock. And so the wheel comes full circle. This is where I was a year ago. This journal has come full circle too. For it was here that I made the fateful decision one year ago which has now been fulfilled. Funny how the patterns work out.

I am now no longer a communicant member of the Lutheran Church, and now I am seriously considering resigning from the ministry very soon. I think that will be a hard decision. I feel I belong to Our Lady's at Ringwood but to let go of the fact that I have been ordained aand the signficance of that even if it was only a Lutheran ordination that's going to be hard. I have to work it through. If I can make some decision within the next week (and I will talk to Cathy and others about it), then I will tender my resignation not to the District President but to the Pastors conference. I think it makes very little sense any more to hold my place on the Role of Pastors.

I would have liked to have gone to Mass today, and tomorrow morning, but there is no mass on Monday or Tuesday down here at Cowes. It's only on Wednesday and Fridays so that is unfortuneatly out of the quesiton. I did try to talk to my mother-in-law last night, and explain that I am no longer receiving communion in the Lutheran Church, and she reacted just the same as every other Lutheran has reacted: "How can you cut yourself of from Holy Communion?", with little understanding not only of the contradiction to my own integrity and my own profession of faith if I was proporting to be a Catholic and still receiving communion in the Lutheran Church. If it didn't do damage to others in the church, it would at least do damage to me.

My mother-in-law said "I think you're leaving God out of the equation." I don't think I am. I think I am quite seriously believing that God is in the equation. And whether I commune or not is not my decision. I don't take something by my own right. I don't claim the right to do that.

I think the right place for me to receive communion will be at the altar at Our Lady's, a Catholic altar if that becomes possible. If it never becomes possible I live with that. It is hard to explain to a Lutheran the grace of being in the presence of the true Eucharist, the true mass. I am not yet at a point where I am able to say that Lutherans do not have the real presence (despite the fact that they believe and confess it). Maybe one day I will think that, I don't think I do though, not at the moment. I have to develop my theology a little bit more, still at this point I know that to be in the presence of the Eucharist at Our Lady's even when I cannot commune is quite a different expereince from receiving communion in the Lutheran Church.

Strangely, I felt less sad about communing for the last time in the Lutheran Church than I did celebrating the Eucharist for the last time in the Lutheran Church. What is sad is that I can't celebrate and receive that with Cathy. That really is a great sadness for me, and I actually pray that one day it will be possible, that we will again receive communion together. One day. But if there is division in our own marriage which reflects the division that is actually within the Bride of Christ itself, my prayer now, my ecumenical work now is as much for the reunion of the Christians in the One Church.

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