Sunday, September 02, 2007

God's Light

I was lay minister for early service today. My mind wasn't quite on task. It had been a busy week full of ups and downs. Even though I got to church early, I spent time prior to the service reading the lesson, helping the altar guild person, talking to our new seminarian. So things didn't go quite perfect during the service.

I didn't mind stumbling in the reading. I covered the one slip pretty well. Prayer went really well with suitable pauses for silence when appropriate. When I got to the altar service part it went a little off. I let the railing pillow slip and it landed with a rather loud thud which seemed to echo to my embarrassed ears. The wine service went okay but I seemed to be hurrying a bit. Maybe the past week had put me in be quick and productive mode. Then we were getting ready to leave the altar. The priest was putting the cover back on the chalice. I thought about when I needed to go and get the candle snuffer and realized, "Oh my gosh! I forgot to light the candles!" So as we were leaving I whispered to Robert, "Should I fake putting out the candles? Or just go?" He said we'd just go. And so we did.

Afterwards we all laughed about it. Robert teased me that Jesus wasn't there. I declared that God's Light had been shining from our eyes. No one disagreed with me. But I felt pretty silly. It just seemed to cap an entire week of stumbling. But you know, none of the parish members said a thing. Maybe they didn't notice but more likely they wanted me to feel good in spite of my mistakes. So if you've ever served as Lay Minister for a church service and felt klutzy and foolish, I pray that you will remember my mishaps and know that, "If the service is perfect then it isn't for Jesus. He died for the imperfect, and that is most certainly me." Later the priest told me he hadn't even noticed the candles till I told him. Whew!

Peace, Hope & Joy!


Susan Palwick said...

Y'know, I'm convinced that God looks down at all this fuss about candles and rolls Her eyes.

Last week I lit the candles before Morning Prayer and snuffed them afterwards, whereupon one of our Altar Guild ladies came up and told me that I'd snuffed them in the wrong order: the one on the left is the Christ Candle and always gets put out last, or something like that. The explanation went in one ear and out the other, I'm afraid.

I just can't be trusted around candles. They're pretty, but I just can't see them as a make-or-break issue, y'know? If you're fretting about the order in which the candles are snuffed, you have too much free time!

Today we had a Liturgy Committee meeting, and that particular Altar Guild lady -- who's very sweet -- was there, and we were talking about new ceramic chalices for Lent, and she said she was going to have to check some detail with the head of the State Altar Guild Chapter, or somesuch. And we all looked at her, and I said, "Aha, at last we have proof! Altar Guild is a paramilitary organization!" and everybody laughed. And later I said something about the State AG people coming down in black helicopters to make sure we were doing things right, and the AG lady giggled.

Q: What's the difference between a terrorist and a liturgist?

A: You can negotiate with a terrorist.

Lee: I'm sure the service was fine. Please don't beat yourself up over these minor details!

Lee said...

Thanks Susan! I knew you'd identify with this. (g) While I feel silly about it, it doesn't bother me nearly as much as the struggles w/ student teaching do. At church I'm now a member of both the Altar Guild and Lay Ministry. Yes, we have a terrorist in our altar guild too. Thankfully, our head of altar guild is a wonderful woman who is retired military and very capable of handling terrorists. (g) My biggest frustration w/ the altar guild work is not having clear directions typed up somewhere. Our head is working on it. But the first Sunday I served on altar guild the post service help couldn't remember where the different cruets were to go and started pouring one into another so that some of the sanctified wine got mixed into the unsanctified, or so it appeared. Oh well, semi-holy wine. LOL


murat11 said...

Lee: The month before I actually served as a LEM and started watching more carefully, I saw all kinds of "mis-steps," which was actually quite reassuring: it helped loosen me up about my own possible mis-steps. The point is that we are serving, not that we are serving perfectly.

I still have the occasional waking "day-mare" (mare is too dramatic, but you get the drift), that I've been circling the altar rail saying something other than the scripted words for serving the wine.

Even though I like the music of the later service, I really enjoy the "choreography" of the earlier service. It feels much more as if the LEM is interacting in and with the congregation, rather than back on the bench behind the altar.

Enjoy yourself. Peace.

Lee said...

Thanks Murat! When I first thought about getting involved in some sort of ministry, right after I'd gone through Cursillo, I decided that for me to give in any way I needed my heart to be engaged. It does that best when I have a face and life I can connect to. So being a Lay Minister is my first step in reaching out to others. This Wednesday will be my first chance to serve at the Healing Eucharist and I'm looking forward to it.

I do understand your day mare imagery. I have them from time to time myself. And yes, the choreography is very nice at the early service. Like you, I much prefer to be involved in the entire service.