Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Good Use for Solitude

It was my turn to do Morning Prayer (MP) today. I like doing it because it helps me start the day, or the week, right. At my church, it's usually a solitary event. That's because we do it early in the morning and no one in their right mind would think of getting ready for work early just to attend. At least not if they weren't the officiating LEM.

The weather is cold and nasty down here this weekend. We have rain and temperatures in the low 40's. Inside the sanctuary, although it was nice and warm, I couldn't completely escape the weather. During the service I would hear the rain picking up force as it beat a soft tattoo on the roof. It was a quiet, intermittent reminder that it was just me and God in there.

When I do MP there's a set pattern I follow. Upon entering the alarm needs to be turned off. Then I walk down the hall and turn on the sanctuary lights. These take a while to come fully on so, while that's happening, I walk a circuit of the sanctuary turning off the outside lights. Then it's into the vesting room for a copy of the prayer list. That in hand, I head over to the acolytes bench, drop my gear on the cushions, and set up the books for the service (it takes 3). Once that's done, I go back into the hall, get the matches, and light the candles. Just before starting, I kneel at the altar railing for a moment to collect my thoughts.

After MP is done, I backtrack turning off the sanctuary lights and signing the log book on the way out. Today however, it was my Altar Guild team's turn to do set up. They weren't going to be at the church till later. I didn't really know when they were arriving because Carol Ann forgot to tell me. She just asked if I could help with the 8:00 AM service.

Because the weather was nasty, I wasn't thrilled about the idea of driving home and coming back. I'm still in training and not supposed to do anything unsupervised, but Carol Ann had said she has faith in me. So today I broke from that routine. We have a notebook with very complete instructions and I decided to step my way through them to see if I could figure things out. Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I do better when I'm all on my own. Such was the case today.

So, after I put out the candles I'd lit for MP, I opened the sacristy and got started. First, I went down the list and took out everything I knew how to find. Then, I went looking and found the other stuff. After that, I started putting it all together. If you've ever done altar guild then you already know that you have to count wafers, measure water and wine, put together chalices, and lay out cloths and other paraphernalia. By going up and down the list several times I think I got everything done and in the right place. The only confusing part came when I couldn't remember which direction North and South were. I had to use my watch compass to figure out where to put the boxes of hearing devices. This all took me a little under two hours.

The home communion kits were left for someone else to do. I've never done them and by this time I was getting pretty hungry. There is also this huge robe/poncho thing (I don't remember what it's called) that the priest wears during communion. That was supposed to be placed over the rail. I forgot to do that, but I've seen it done just before service too so I'm not worried. I left a note telling whoever showed up what was done and to please double check my work. Then I went home.

It gave me a warm feeling thinking someone might have some extra time for themselves because the work was done. I hope there wasn't anything that needed fixing. And now, if I did it all correctly, I can say, "I'm trained." (G) Or at least in the major part of it. I should still learn how to do the home kits but that can come later. Happy Saturday all!



San said...

"A quiet intermittent reminder that it was just me and God in there." Lovely.

It's obvious, Lee, that your Morning Prayer duty is quite meaningful to you. I enjoyed reading your description of the process.

Happy Saturday to you too.

Lee said...

Thank you, San.

You're right. I get a lot out of it. Now that I've done it for a while I would miss it if I were left off the schedule.