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Changing Wine into Tang

I was visiting the sick and infirm members of the congregation, administering the sacrament of Holy Communion. Our family was leaving that afternoon for a week-long tent camping vacation. The car was packed and ready to go. Goaded by a guilty conscience or something like it, every year on the day of vacation departure I tried to do all the pastoral stuff in one day. It never failed to irritate the wife and kids. Although there was a large number of shut-ins that summer day, I had made good progress, and Mr. Harry J_________ was my final visit. Harry was a delightful man of Swedish persuasion. After a few minutes of conversation, I opened my private Communion kit to prepare for the sacrament. Imagine my dismay to see that the wine had leaked from the small glass container, soaking the interior of the kit. To return the two or three miles to the church for a new supply of wine would mean we would be erecting the tent in the dark. Time was of the essence. “Harry,” I said, “I’ve no wine. The stopper wasn’t tight and it leaked. May I borrow wine from you and Almeda?” He blanched. I thought for a second he would faint. Harry managed to stammer, “We don’t keep wine in our house,” he said. “That’s okay. Do you have grape juice?” “No, sorry we don’t,” said Mr. J_______. His brow furrowed in thought. Then, “There’s some Tang in the cupboard,” he said helpfully. “I could mix you up some. Only take a minute.” Tang? The orange-flavored powder foisted on kids when mom was out of Kool-Aid? Tang to represent the sacrificial Blood of Jesus? How would that sit with the teachings of Martin Luther, or more importantly, with my church council if they got wind of this? A glance at my watch told me it was now or after vacation. I decided on now. “The Body of Christ. Given for you.” “The Tang of Christ. Shed for you.” God, have mercy on me. We arrived at the camp site in time to erect the tent in the dusk. Some time after vacation ended and I had returned to church duties, Almeda J________ walked into my office. Her blue eyes twinkled, and she barely suppressed a wide smile. “Thanks for visiting Harry and giving him Communion,” she said, the smile bursting out. “I understand you substituted Tang for wine. Too bad Jesus wasn’t there. He could have turned the Tang into wine, don’tcha think?” We laughed ourselves silly. As she left, Almeda paused at the door. “Just so you know, pastor, we always have wine with our meals. Harry told you a fib ‘cause he didn’t want you to think we were lushes.”

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