We're getting married at St. Alban's Church here is Waco. We love this little church, its rector Jeff Fisher, and the congregation (even though we haven't really gotten to know them). And since Jeff is marrying us and the church is so graciously opening its doors to our guests on the white-hot day I'm sure August 28 will be, I decided to take some time to demonstrate our gratitude.
So I've volunteered for the Alter Guild. Unfortunately, I'll only get to serve on it...three times before we move to Roswell, New Mexico. However, I'm thinking that I could serve on the alter guild at our new Roswell church, whichever (of the TWO Episcopal churches) it may be.
Yesterday afternoon I met the rest of my Alter Guild team up at the church and had a crash course on how to set everything up. There was so much to learn! There were all sorts of cloths and bowls and silver goblets, crystal pitchers. So many mysteries and things to learn.
When you go "backstage" of a church so steeped with tradition, the mystery does not dissipate. It actually gets thicker. You would think that learning what goes on behind the scenes is like learning the steps of a magician's trick. It's not. It only makes things more complicated. No illusion is lifted. Instead, you become even more convinced that you'll never untangle all the ins and outs of the worship of a Holy God.
That's how I felt as a much younger girl, when the priests at my cousin's Catholic church hosted her birthday lunch in their home. Priestly humor, and the immense amount of books, and the bond they shared, and the strange presence of alcohol only made things more complicated. My aunt had asked me not to share details about inside the rectory, just out of respect for the private lives of the priests.
It's a good thing, though. I like that the details never stop unfolding, the complication of things.