There I Was
Originally scheduled for June 23
the customs of the sea which every sailor knows, there is the “sea
story.” A good sea story always begins the same way: “There I was…”
We might ask why.
first of all, it’s traditional. No doubt it has been handed down
since the days of sail and often involves the same sea monsters. You
can almost hear the captain saying, “there I was… This fellow named
Jonah walked on board my ship and brought with him a storm the likes
of which you will never see.” Now, for the landlubber and the naïve
— children about six years of age are ideal for this — the personal
nature of the opening lends some semblance of believability to the
story. After all, you’re getting it from an eyewitness. Perhaps more
important, it attaches the story to a person. When you repeat it you
can say, “uncle Blowhard told me this story himself.” If the story
is good enough it will soon be attached to somebody else and passed
on down to the next generation of sailors. All of whom, of course,
will start the same way and tell you they were there.
But what if you’re telling the truth — and you weren’t there?
The standards are a bit higher. You do much better off with a
written account by eyewitnesses rather than just tradition. That’s
why we have the Gospels, for example. You also need some way of
involving the listener — they’re not going to remember what they
don’t think is important. In fact, the more commitment you can get
from them, the better. But you do want to name names — it wasn’t
“some guy” but Jesus of Nazareth. And if it’s really important, you
include a ceremony of some sort. There is a reason that every day at
sunset the lonely notes of Taps float over the watery grave of the
USS Arizona, bringing tears to the patriot’s eyes. It’s not a sea
Which brings us to communion, then. The story is well known to all
Christians and is of primary importance. It is the story of the
faith: how Christ, on the cross, made the atonement for our sins and
opened the gates of heaven to us. The story of the atonement is the
story of forgiveness for mankind. Christ gave us instructions to
link that story to a simple set of symbols, shared by all
Christians. The cup is his blood; the bread, his body. The ceremony
is a simple one, yet profound. It’s like Taps — a simple melody that
touches the heart deeply.
It is our story. Let us pass it on to our children and their
children in the way in which we received it: simple, touching the
heart and profound.