Greetings St. Liz,
The Woods family is very excited to begin our time with you this coming week. It has been a long hot summer for us as I am sure it has been the same for you.
I am writing this after standing outside with our oldest daughter, Harper, as we watched a nice little summer rainstorm pour down upon us. It was just long enough that it knocked the heat out of the air and left a cool breeze in its wake. It was cool enough that we actually felt like spending more than ten minutes outside after the storm passed. ...Read More
An Invitation to Altar Workby The Rev. Daniel P Strandlund on January 30, 2020
When we put something on the altar, it changes. A placemat becomes a corporal. A cup becomes a chalice. A plate becomes a paten. An odd piece of stiffened white linen becomes a pall. Bread and wine become body and blood.
All these funny church words serve to remind us of a basic truth: the altar is the place where we meet Jesus, and when we meet Jesus, things change. We change. The presence of Christ involves a kind of translation: when we are with Christ, we are in a new kingdom. We cross a kind of border. We learn new words in this strange new country where bread and body and even we are somehow different.
This is one of the themes we’re practicing with our Learning Altar, or Low Altar, at the 8:45am service. It’s simple: we step onto our big blue rug like we’re stepping into a new country. We learn the names of the objects that go on the altar. We learn to handle them, and we place them where they go. The prayerful simplicity of this work gets our hearts ready to receive Jesus even as our bodies prepare the physical space where we will meet Him through sacrament. We receive God’s presence as a little child does, because that’s really the only way to receive it (Mark 10:15).
When we learn to handle the altar objects and learn their names, we are learning to be at home at the altar. It’s a way of learning to be comfortable at church, which is to say that this is a way of letting St. Liz becoming ours. The chores we do taking care of the altar are like setting the table at home: we handle the objects, we place them where they go, we keep them clean, we learn their names. Corporal, paten, chalice. Placemat, plate, cup.
We do this in honor of God and on behalf of our sisters and brothers. Furthermore, this is the kind of work that is necessary. Sunday worship cannot happen without the altar work getting done. We cannot eat unless the table is set.
I’m inviting you to learn how to do this altar work, but showing up does not oblige you to anything. We’re gathering to learn the names of things, how they go together, how to handle them. I hope you’ll come. Saturday, February 15th at 2pm.