Today is one of those days where my duties as the head deacon and the roles of the other deacons at the Wasatch Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church really kick in. That’s because it’s one of our quarterly Communion Sabbaths, a sacred and solemn time in our church — complete with an Ordinance of Humility, consisting of the washing of each other’s feet in a gesture of serving each other, and the breaking of unleavened bread and partaking of grape juice in place of actual wine.
It is a service treated with great reverence. I’ve had a wonderful mentor in how to prepare for it in that spirit. That example has been set by Mike Smith. He was one of our head deacons just before I came along to take over the duty several years ago. And, like me, he came to our church a bit later in his life than most people, learning about Adventism through our worldwide church’s 3ABN broadcasting network, and he’s been a quietly powerful addition to our church ever since.
I had been involved in Communion services before as “just a regular deacon,” but once I became a head deacon, it was Mike Smith who taught me how to “do it the right way,” and I’ve been following his lead ever since as I do the preparations myself — making sure my hands are clean before doing anything with the bread or drink, filling the cups with grape juice with a feeling of reverence for the blood that it represents, remembering the body of Christ as the trays of bread are filled.
I’ve even learned how to dispose of the juice (wine) and bread that is left from what’s been blessed, going straight from the instructions given in the Holy Bible as followed and passed along by Mike. And there are even different interpretations and debate on how the elements should be disposed of once they’ve been blessed, but I’ve always followed it the way Mike taught me from his own devoted study — pouring or burying the juice in the ground (I now pour it into the ground which bears a tree, as in the “tree of life”) and burning the bread.
Our church has had more than its share of people facing major challenges in the past few years, and Mike is one of them. For health reasons, he is one of those people at Wasatch Hills who has been in need of special prayers recently. His struggles continue, so his need for prayers continues.
Mike is someone I’ve come to greatly admire in the time I’ve come to know him at Wasatch Hills. He’s such a kind, decent, compassionate, spiritual man who is among the people I consider “the salt of the earth.” He gives our church a special flavor. For me, it’s always been partly through his gift to our church through music. He plays the guitar and sings much the same way you might expect someone like Willie Nelson to do it.
He knows how to take more “secular” country music songs that speak of a deep kind of spirituality, and he gives them all the emotion and heartfelt belief that they deserve. One of the songs he’s done as special music in our church was Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me Lord.” And I loved it, deeply.
I’ve been down that path — similar to Mike Smith and Kris Kristofferson — myself. I’ve been a “believer” for so many years, going back to childhood, but I resisted “taking the plunge” for one reason or another for the longest time. My awakening came later in my adult life, at the age of 37. I can relate.
On another personal and related note … years ago, when I was thinking up a unique “user ID” as I joined a music discussion website that I’ve been a member of for 11 years or so, I was searching my soul for some kind of inspiration on what to “call myself.” It didn’t take long to come up with it, and I believe it was inspired. In one way or another, ever since then, I’ve used it as a personal ID on the music discussion site, as a profile ID for my personal Facebook page and for my blog’s Facebook page. When I want to copyright photos of mine that I don’t want to be stolen, I use that same ID.
It’s “daddysangbassdude.” Why that one? A few reasons: I’m a daddy to three great young people, I can sing, I’m a deep bass, and I’m a dude. But it was also inspired by another “country spiritual song,” made most famous by the late, great Johnny Cash.
It hits very close to my heart. Closer than many might realize.
I’ll close out my playlist with some other songs of deep meaning from “The Man In Black.” I think Mike Smith would appreciate that. I’ll be especially thinking of Mike this morning as I prepare for this quarter’s Communion service, filling each cup with the juice, and each tray with the bread. It is all deeply meaningful.