Those of you who watch the acolytes carefully each Sunday may have noticed that we had some new recruits. We can sometimes forget how nervous young teenagers can feel as they robe up for the first time and stand in front of everyone. It can be quite scary, until at least the point that they figure out that it’s the clergy (not the acolytes) who make the most mistakes on the altar!
But my favorite moment of the morning was seeing one of our veterans – Phillip – walking two new acolytes through the motions as they lit the candles. Phillip was visibly a teacher, and was fearless about standing in front of the congregation in order to point out to the new acolytes what was going on. He knew that the only way to mentor the new folks was to go out – in front of everyone – and be beside them as they figured out what to do. There was absolutely no sense of “how do I look?”. Phillip’s focus was on “how do i teach?”
This is part of what being a “teaching” congregation looks like. Taking time to share with others what is going on – even if that means breaking out of the usual liturgical posture – is so much more important than keeping up appearances if we are truly serious about being a congregation of welcome.