Are not all angels’ spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?(Hebrews 1.14)
There are so many things that I have taken for granted over the years, which during this past year of pandemic have risen up and reminded me of what I have lost. I’m too embarrassed to name them all here, but trust me, they are numerous … a few of them are … the gift of being able to briefly connect with a couple of dozen people on Sunday morning in the narthex … the energy of those gathered in person for my Wednesday AM Bible Study … the chance to hold the hand of a shut-in, for whom conversation is a challenge. I could name another dozen in the next sixty seconds. But here is just one … the ministry of our Altar Guild.
These are truly the unseen servants of our worship life. Filling candles with oil … changing paraments … cleaning communion vessels … and … and … providing warm water in a modest white pitcher for baptisms. Yes, I was reminded of that last item noted this past Saturday morning when I presided over the two baptisms, which were taped for the purpose of inclusion in the video of our Easter Vigil service later that evening.
All was going well … introductions, identification of the candidates, the recital of the Apostles’ Creed, and Luther’s Flood Prayer. We were at the heart of the sacrament … the water rite accompanied by the classic words. “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We just didn’t get there … because there was no water in the font!!! If I tried to explain how we got this point, it would sound like endless rationalization. The fact was, because our Altar Guild was not in charge of the set up for the baptism (and I was), we had no water. We paused … fixed the problem, after this pastor stumbled around and found the pitcher of water that had been misplaced (by him) … and the baptism went forward. Two new members of God’s Church … a beautiful liturgy enacted … and some laughter around the goof, which is never completely a bad thing.
But I was reminded of how easy it is to take for granted those who serve behind he scenes in our worship life … from ushers, bulletin preparers, and AV Room folks … to sextons, nursery attendants and livestream guardians … to Facebook caretakers and Worship Committee members … and others I am probably missing in this brief list.
So at the end of the day today, say a prayer for all those who work behind the scenes … off the main stage … unseen and unobserved. For as often as not, these are the persons that make it possible for those of us on center stage to do what we do. Bless you Altar Guild, and all those who serve in similar ways in other areas of worship and life at St. Peter’s. You bless us all, and honor God with your service.