when we lived in pittsburgh, kenny and i were members of Church of the Ascension, an episcopal church where we were later married. i was so fortunate to be able to serve on the Altar Guild for several years while we were there.
if you ever find yourself in a liturgical worship service and have no idea what is going on, and why there is so much “stuff” involved in the service, just find yourself a member of the altar guild, and s/he will be able to tell you the meaning, the purpose, the reason for each part of the service.
serving on the altar guild was like walking alongside the chef at a 5-star restaurant before dinner service; it was akin to helping your grandmother prepare the thanksgiving meal for your extended family, using heirloom recipes for each course, ironing the linen, and polishing the silver, all to create an incredible dining experience for the paying customer, or the family member.
the preparations for the Easter Vigil every year were monumental. we usually split into teams for monthly rotations, but Holy Week was prepared by the entire Altar Guild. the candles were replaced with new ones; the altar linens were washed, pressed and replaced; the frontal on the altar was changed to the festival one; and all the vestments of the priests and deacons were washed, and prepared for the biggest of celebrations: the resurrection of our Lord.
and that was just the preparations for the altar! there were still hundreds of lillies and easter flowers to prepare, and the baptism font to ready for Vigil baptisms.
Easter was my favorite season to be involved in. it was the time to make everything new in our worship setting, just as Christ’s death and resurrection has made us new.
monday morning is the start of the working week. what can we do in our homes at the start of each week that enriches our daily life? our daily chores, though on the surface can seem like something in the way of our true calling in life, can be meaningful actions of love to those we serve. i know i don’t get a daily “thank you!” from my kids for keeping their clothes washed and folded, but i wouldn’t be doing my best as their caretaker if i kept them in dirty, wrinkled clothes.
maybe you don’t think household chores are as important as those tasks you do at a paying occupation. or maybe to you, as they are to me, they are the underlying currents of your day, wafting above and around us like the incense rising from the thurible at the altar.
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense… Psalm 141:2