A colleague of mine has allergies that fly under the radar of our current cultural popularity. Most of us know by now that lots of folks will die if their lips touch peanuts, and that shellfish make others go into anaphylaxis. But this friend gets hives from apples and grapes--the base fruits for almost every commercially sold juice on the market.
At home she can ensure that these fruits don't make it to the table. But in community--and for us, most importantly, in the church--there is no such guarantee. What's more, the tradition of the church is to use wine or grape juice for communion, with almost no exception. This means that my colleague must either go without both elements of communion or get water instead of the flavorful fruit of the vine.
Our denomination's constitution, as it lays out the guidelines for worship, uses an interesting turn of phrase to instruct us in the filling of the communion cup. It instructs us that a suitable form of "the fruit of the vine" is to be used. As I pondered my colleague's quandary, I wondered what fruit of the vine might substitute for grapes at the communion table.
Tomatoes, though technically on a vine and having the additional virtue of approximating blood, seem to my palate to lack the sweetness I have come to appreciate in the communion cup. And I cannot imagine that acorn squash would produce a tasty drink. Then I remembered the discovery I made while in New Zealand: that kiwi fruits grow on vines.
Some chopping, scooping, and straining turned five kiwi fruits into about one three-quarter cup of juice.
The rub: this colleague and I were to be part of a worship service on Saturday with communion. (Hence my production of the juice this week.) However, it turns out that those planning worship may not have included communion. And I'm not sure that fresh-pressed kiwi juice will last until the next time we're together for worship. So we'll have to take a moment on Saturday morning to raise our cups and unceremoniously toast to The King with our fruit of the vine.