The thing about a routine (whether it’s a good routine or a bad habit) is that after a while they become so woven into the fabric of your experience that you tend not to notice them anymore. It gives the impression that things happen because they always “just seem to happen.” I want to apply this thought to the fabric of our worship life as a way of intentionally shining a noticeable light on the ministry of our Altar Guild and Flower Guild teams. Just reading this will be a way for you to say “thank you.”
There is so much about weekly worship that we take for granted. The silver is always polished and set up in just the right place. Special linens and vestments are kept fresh for use. The bread and wine elements for Holy Communion are always on hand and in sufficient quantity. The colored liturgical hangings are connected to their proper season or occasion of worship and all is placed with care. The candles are never too short (except when you get a faulty one that seems to suddenly “collapse” soon after it’s lit). Strikingly lovely flower arrangements in Narthex and in the Sanctuary behind the Altar adorn and grace these spaces in ways that augment but do not dominate the visual component of worship. The artistry here is “just right.” 8:00 Eucharist, 8:45 Family Service, 10:30 Worship, 6:00 PM Contemporary Service, mid-week services, weddings on the weekends, funerals anytime, other special services… the list is long and all of these require preparation and the committed service of others. These preparations don’t “just happen.”
Two things I want to say here. First to these two teams who are caring and careful in their work: thank you. Thank you for understanding that what you do is important. Thank you for such constant behind the scenes faithfulness. Secondly to the rest of us whose experience of worship is benefitted by the graceful faithfulness of these two teams of worship servants: take time to notice. Over the next several weeks take a moment to be intentional about looking closely at the flowers and how everything is put together. Look closely at the artistry in the altar hangings, the craftsmanship displayed in the silver and brass work. Look at the neat and orderly way things are laid out. These things don’t “just happen”. There are people who are intentional about seeing to our worship preparations day after day week after week month after month year after year. It is not their desire to show off or be recipients of constant praise. But periodically it is appropriate to stop and be just as intentional about noticing what they do as they are in their faithful disciplines of worship preparation at St. Michaels.
As long as we are saying “thank you”, be sure to thank Christen Reese for her two years as head of our Altar Guild teams and for Margaret Smith who has moved from being in a support position last year to taking on this leadership position for 2012. Likewise Beryl Middleton has headed up our first rate flower team and has brought on board Dale Frampton to assume a head leadership role next year.
New Aumbry. What’s an “aumbry”? The kind of liturgical worship we have as Anglicans has roots that are so deep and time-tested that just about every single thing we use and every single thing we do has its own special “church” name. An aumbry is a special box or cabinet set apart solely for the purpose of housing bread and wine that has been consecrated by the clergy.
Our new aumbry is located in the sacristy. (Google “sacristy” if you’re curious.) These “elements” of bread and wine have been consecrated during the course of our worship of the Lord. In response to the command of Jesus to “do this in remembrance of me” we have asked the Holy Spirit to come and be present for us in the substance of bread and wine. Our Holy Communion with God through Jesus Christ is not just to be a matter for the mind and the spirit. Jesus is the “Word made flesh” and our communion with God contains a substantial physical aspect as well. Once we have asked the Lord to make this bread and wine particularly special through his Holy Spirit then we honor the way in which these two elements are treated thereafter. I’m not saying that this is now “magic bread” and “magic wine.” But, once consecrated, they are to be set apart from bread and wine that is not consecrated as a matter of honor and respect. An aumbry is simply a cabinet dedicated to this purpose.
When there is a need for a member of the clergy or a Lay Eucharistic Minister to take this Sacrament of bread and wine to someone in a hospital or who for any reason is prevented from coming to worship with the rest of the community at St. Michael’s, then the clergy and LEMs know exactly where to go for easy access to these elements of communion. This aumbry will help us be the best stewards we can be of the wine and bread we purchase and set apart through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit for God’s people.
~ The Rev. Ted McNabb