On serving on the Altar Guild
by Rev. Daniel P. Strandlund | October 19, 2017Hi friends, after church on Sunday, October 29th, I’m leading a training for all current members of our Altar Guild and for anyone who would like to join. More details below, but first, I want to tell you about all the household chores I did today.
Lucy has been out of town visiting our nieces for a few days, so today I set about getting the house ready for her return. Laundry, washing dishes, scrubbing under the stove’s eyes, more laundry, taking out the garbage, realizing that the garbage bag leaked and then Cloroxing the garbage can itself—you know the drill.
I really like this Lucy’s-coming-home ritual of mine. Having a day every now and then where I clean everything satisfies me endlessly. Our apartment at the seminary isn’t that big anyway, so it really is possible to transform the place in just a couple hours. I open the balcony door and the front door to let the breeze and sunlight move in and out with Zooby as they wish, and then it’s just me, a dish rag, the vacuum, and the slow, careful ordering of our world.
It feels good to take care of the place where you live. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). After all, part of God’s purpose for human beings is to care for our environment. Today, for me, that looked like folding laundry and using a little spray bottle to water Lucy’s mysterious air plants. It’s not glamorous, but there is satisfaction and affection in it.
There’s affection in scrubbing the grimy tiles by the dog bowls because it was part of my preparing to welcome Lucy home. Not only do I clean and order the apartment because it’s mine, but because it’s ours. It’s the place where I’ll meet her when she gets back, and it’s the place where I meet her every day after work, every morning when we wake up. I want it to be ready.
On Saturdays, one of our altar guild teams comes to the sanctuary, and they get everything ready. They put the bread and wine on the table by the doors for the ushers. They set the altar book just right. They lay out the chalices and purificators just so, and they place the paten for the bread on the credence table behind the altar. They lay out the reserve sacrament, just in case we need more. They put flowers on the altar. When the seasons change, they change the hangings to match. They even fill the preacher’s water glass and cover it with a doyly.
They do all this not only because this place is theirs, but because it’s ours. The Altar Guild ‘gets the house ready’ so that we can meet each other, and so that, together, we can meet Jesus when he returns.
It’s good work. There’s washing dishes, folding towels, grocery shopping for flowers and wine and other supplies. It’s not glamorous, and there’s nobody around watching you do it, but the work is holy. It’s preparing the way, both for the Lord and for his people.
Again, after worship on Sunday, October 29th, I’m going to lead a training for St. Elizabeth’s Altar Guild—both our existing members and for any of you out there who might be interested. Coming to training doesn’t commit you. If you are interested in serving on the Altar Guild, I ask that you be a confirmed communicant of St. Elizabeth who is at least 16 years of age. If you’re not confirmed, or if you missed Bishop Reed’s visit last week ago, don’t let that stop you! But know that I will expect you to participate in confirmation the next time it comes around. The time commitment is usually a couple hours one Saturday per month when your team is scheduled, plus tidying up after service on Sunday that same weekend. Additional time will be required as needed (around major feast days, for example). It’s not a huge commitment in terms of time, but it’s work that must be done each week.
If behind the scenes work is what you like, then maybe serving on the Altar Guild is for you. Or if you’re looking for a way to get more involved but haven’t found the right fit for you yet, maybe this is it. I hope you’ll consider serving. Plus, I guarantee you’ll make a friend or two in the process!
If you’re interested in serving and/or attending the training, please let Laurie Haney know. She’s our Altar Guild leader. You can reach Laurie at firstname.lastname@example.org or (512) 638-0461.