Friday, May 24, 2013

The Body of . . .Oops! Gluten Free in the World of Church

If you follow my adventures within and beyond church, you already know I can go from zero to gazillion mph when it comes to discussing gluten-free living.

Secular summation: Why are GF foods so needlessly expensive? 

Sacramental summation: Why is offering GF Communion so freakin' difficult?

I stripped gluten from my diet several years ago. A nutritionist thought doing so would reduce my fibromyalgia pain. I rolled my eyes when she trotted out the suggestion. 

"Isn't gluten free the new bright shiny?"

Celiac disease had recently become the diagnosis du jour and I already knew I didn't have that. She provided links to articles in credible journals. Giving up wheat, rye, and barley seemed easy enough. It was and within 72 hours my pain level had dropped a stunning 80-ish percent. 

I became more careful about eating anything with gluten. It was expensive at first because GF foods, especially those made under certified gluten free manufacturing processes are pricey. That was relatively easy for me to work around because I rock at cooking. 

What's wasn't and still isn't so easy is getting GF Eucharist, especially at Roman Catholic churches. Either GF hosts aren't available or arranging to receive them is brutally cumbersome or actually receiving them can be downright humiliating. 

No joke, I attended a church where those receiving GF Eucharist were told to go to the back of the bus line to wait until everyone else was served. This was allegedly easier . . . for the deacon who also made no attempt to disguise his exasperation with the situation. I no longer attend that church. And yes, I was too weary to lift that aggravation up to the Lord or lay it at the foot of the Cross.

Last year I flat-out gave up. When not receiving Communion became too spiritually painful, I decided to opt for physical pain. Impressively white martyr-ish, eh? Not really. 

Turns out a small piece keeps the fibro pain down to a manageable 2-3 on a scale of ten. Tolerable since my normal pain level runs at 5-6 on any given day of goofy barometric pressure changes.

The next challenge became instructing clergy to offer a smaller piece of Eucharist, something routinely done so nursing home communicants don't choke to death on Jesus. But this, too, has proven to be a hassle at times. But it's not a hassle at St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Baltimore.

I especially love the swift, heartfelt mea culpa Pastor Dale Dusman delivers if he forgets to break what has already broken for us. Last Sunday's sounded like this: "The Body of . . . oops!"  

We both cracked up laughing at the altar rail and thanks to the endorphin boost, I was (relatively) pain-free for the rest of the day.