Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What a glorious thing it is to worship the Lord...

We have recently reached a  milestone with our eldest child. She has gained the age, possibly not of discernment, but of being invited to be trained and to serve as an acolyte in church. For those of you who are not remotely Anglican or liturgical in your ecclesiastical leanings, an acolyte assists in worship by carrying candles or a cross down the aisle, ringing the bell during the Eucharistic prayer (when its supposed to be rung and not all the time or when they feel like it), assisting the priest to set the table for communion, ushering people up to communion and other tasks of that nature. 

We have struggled over the years at Good Shepherd to convince children to want to serve in this way, have struggled to train them, and struggled to get their parents to bring them to church. However, in the last year, there has been a veritable explosion of children desirous of participating in this ministry and eager to serve, our own child amongst them.

Of course, our own child is excessively short, and, as an eight your old, she succumbs, though rarely, to silliness.

This last Sunday was one of those times. She, and the other candle bearer, also of small stature, walked carefully  and reverently down the aisle with the crucifer (the one who carries the cross) at the beginning of the service. I could tell from the gleam in her eye that she was thinking about silly bands and not about Jesus. The ministry of the Word went forward without incident. The acolytes stood, knelt, sang, sat, and prayed without drawing attention to themselves. Only an occasional leaning back while she knelt, to grin at me in the pew, interrupted the quiet flow of worship. At the peace Elphine made a bee line for me to inform me that her fellow candle bearer had been allowed to wear his silly bands high up under his robe and so could she have her back. 

"Absolutely not!" I said, "and the Peace of the Lord be always with you."
As she regained the altar, she and the other acolyte consulted with each about what to do, always a bad sign, I feel, but finally decided to pursue the correct course and return to their seats. The bell was mercifully rung by the crucifer and then came the agonizing moment when they had to walk back to the first pew and let the congregation out, pew by pew, to come forward for communion. Again the two whispered together but finally decided to do what they'd been instructed to do. As I left my pew Elphine whispered loudly, "NOW can I have my silly bands?"

"NO" I whispered back, imploring God to save my child from her sins.
The final prayer was said, Matt blessed the congregation, I opened my hymnal to sing the final hymn, and then Elphine, possibly in confusion, or impatience or gratitude that the service was finally over, took her candle, glanced at the other acolytes, the Eucharistic Ministers, me, and her father the priest, and spun around to walked quickly down the aisle all by herself, candle flailing. The other candle bearer, naturally, took off after her. The entire congregation, excepting visitors who didn't noticed, dissolved into fits of laughter, some of them crying with joy.

I left my pew and went back to encourage my child in the way she should go. "You did a pretty good job," I said, "but, um, did you notice anything just now?" 
"No!" she whispered, "can I have my silly bands?"

9 comments:

Joyce Carlson said...

Okay. I'm ignorant. What are silly bands?
ME

Anne Kennedy said...

Silly bands are the latest most annoying fad to hit small children in the US. Even without purchasing any of these wretched items ourselves, our house is infested with them. They are small plastic bracelets that come in every conceivable shape and color--cows, dogs, cats, phoenix (pl?), cowboys, hamburgers etc. ets. When you have them on you can't tell what they are, but then you take them off and they resume their shape. The children trade them, cheat each other, cry, fight, and freak out over them all day long. Apparently, though, they are developmentally spot on for the 6 to 10 year old who loves to "collect, sort and classify". May God help me.

Bob Maxwell said...

In our 6/6 wedding pictures there is one showing Estelle and my left hand clasping hers.

On our wrists were silly bands from her only granddaughter, Adina, who was Estelle's flower girl.

It was Adina that was most concerned for her Grandma that she was getting married to a good man --not mother-in-law to be Elaine. We spent a day and a half doing things with Adina alone and than, before the service, told her that we were wearing her silly band on our left wrists for our grandchildren, all of them, and praying they weren't loosing but gaining a new loving "Grand." Mine is an elephant.

Bob†

Polly said...

Love it!

Teacher Mommy said...

I can picture this all too well. Giggling with you.

As for silly bands...they were infesting my classroom by the end of this last school year. My unwritten rule was that as long as students weren't distracted by them, they could have them. As soon as they began playing around with them or, God help me, trying to shoot them across the room, the bands became mine. I had a nice little collection going. I'm rather fond of the shoe one.

I have much the same approach to food in the classroom. If it's just sitting there quietly in their bags, fine. If they're eating...well, they better share. With me.

There are days when I don't need to bring a lunch.

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

This has to be one of my favorite posts EVER. :)

Jim said...

When I was master of acolytes in our parish, the rector told the tale of his being asked to take a container of (mercifully) un-blessed communion wafers to the altar. He tripped on the grid of the old style furnace dumping all of the wafers into the blower. When the rector caught up with him he was standing there, crying, and trying to catch them as they blew up from the boiler.

I once slipped and put the candle lighter right through a 14 inch bee's wax candle to the amusement of an entire watching congregation.

Ah youth!

FWIW
jimB

Sue Martinez said...

One of my favorite acolyte stories was told to me by a friend from Buffalo, NY, that took place one winter when he was about 10. He was standing in front of the altar, waiting for the ushers to walk up the carpeted aisle and present him with the offering basins. As metal met metal, he was stunned by a jolt of static electricity, tossed the basins and their contents in the air, and yelled something VERY profane.

Jules said...

your girl's beautiful =)