I am back at my home congregation for the summer.
It was strange sitting in the pews as a mere congregant rather than as a vicar. Before services started, I mentally reviewed everything that would be different from my field work site. My home congregation prints the entire worship in the bulletin and we use a lot more worship assistants during the service. We also love our cassocks. The choir would be smaller but there would be a lot more organ during the service. Bowing is also in at Trinity LIC. There would be no grape juice option and we would be eating wafers, not bread. The Lord’s prayer would be an older translation rather than what is in the ELW. Basically, all the things that are “normal” to me, all the things I grew up in the faith with, are now all slightly unfamiliar. As I took my pew, I said hello to a few folks around me and shook a few hands. I also looked up and stared at those images of Christ, etched in the windows – images I had memorized over the years. I reviewed the bulletin and started reading the Lutheran: New Yorker. The place gradually filled up and then the prelude started.
After absolution, the congregation shared the peace of the lord our normal way – by shaking the hands of everyone in the room. I saw a lot of familiar faces and many new ones. Old ladies were happy to see me and, soon, my cheeks were covered in red lipstick lip marks. Hugs went around freely and I felt like I probably delayed the start of the gathering hymn all by my lonesome. The service went smoothly and Pastor Paul even name dropped me during the sermon. During the offering procession, as I bowed to the cross, one of my favorite old ladies who was carrying the wafers, patted me on the head. After the service, I made my way down into the undercroft for our quarterly congregational meeting. I picked my seat next to K and ate my fill of delicious fruits, crackers, cheese, cookies, and danishes. Trinity LIC knows how to put out a fellowship spread.
As I walked back to the food table during the meeting (the cookies were calling to me), I was stopped and asked if I would be back on the schedule as a worship assistant. This, people, is how it is done. No delay or time to relax. I said I’d think about it – but went ahead and picked up a role for next week. I am easily volunteered into things.