Altar serving

Wednesday in the Easter Octave

Looks like I’m now unofficially part of the St. John’s community now rather than just an outsider who pops in every now and again.

No, I haven’t been confirmed as an Anglican (yet; though I wish I was confirmed as a Methodist before my first communion at 12 or just after I gave myself to Christ at the age of 15).

No, I’m not jumping ship (yet; but when I do eventually jump ship is still causing me some anxiety).

I went to the lunchtime Mass today and it was good to see all the trimmings back (crucifixes, the icon screen of Our Lady & the Lord opened up again, altar linens, candles) after everything was stripped away for Good Friday.

I have been asked to be the reader at lunchtime Eucharists before, but Rev’d Gillian Moses was the priest on duty today and given that she asked me to assist at the altar, I guess that means that I am welcome to be an altar server/acolyte at the lunchtime Mass now. Today was the first time. Given that I’ve been to that many Roman Catholic masses at lunchtime as well as Anglican (well, Anglo-Catholic) ones, I’m well aware of the rituals that go on as the altar is prepared for Communion and what happens after.

I have A Priest’s Handbook so I know the reasons why we bow to the Eucharistic minister after we have given the bread and wine to them to consecrate, why the lavabo is used and why some priest’s pray the prayer as they have their hands washed, etc, etc. But to actually get up there and serve is another thing and a great privilege it is at that.

Something spoke to me in the Gospel reading for today as it recounted the story of when Jesus appeared to the two disciples walking to Emmaus (in Luke 24:13-35). These verses summarize up what happens at every Eucharist I’ve attended (Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Uniting Church, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox).

‘How dull you are!’ he answered. ‘How slow to believe all that the prophets said! Was not the Messiah bound to suffer in this way before entering upon his glory?’ Then, starting from Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them in the whole of scripture the things that referred to himself. … And when he had sat down with them at table, he took bread and said the blessing; he broke the bread, and offered it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him; but he vanished from their sight. They said to one another, ‘Were not our hearts on fire as he talked with us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’

Luke 24:25-27, 30-32 (Revised English Bible)

As the lessons are read, meditated over and a sermon/homily/message may be given, something happens on the inside. The mind and heart are stirred with affection for God and a desire to know him. And when the Great Thanksgiving is prayed over the bread and wine, more is stirred up within until the host is broken, the wine consecrated/blessed and Christ’s real presence is made known in them as the most blessed Body and Blood of Christ. I recognize my Lord and Saviour, but he is no longer with us corporeally. My heart is on fire for him, but he is no longer there. And then I am dismissed from the Eucharist with the versicle and response:

V. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
R. In the name of Christ. Amen.

And I am ready once again to preach the Gospel to people, not necessarily with words, but with actions. As Cleopas and his companion ran back to Jerusalem to tell the others, I head back to my own Jerusalem of the workplace ready to share the good news to those who want to hear it in words or simply to show it to others in how I treat and help them. In the name of Christ. Amen.

+ bf 2258hrs


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