If no one notices you, you know you’ve done a good job. This past Saturday we had another training session with our acolytes. I’m regularly impressed with the group and was again at this meeting. What impresses me is that they seem to get the real meaning of serving without drawing attention to themselves. They easily come to know that the reason they wear vestments is not so they’ll look fancy, but so they’ll blend in and all look the same. They get it that they are a team and that working together is important. They’re supposed to complement each other and move in tandem with others rather than be flamboyant. They understand it when we talk about trying not to distract the congregation by talking a lot or sitting in such a way that keeps our focus on them instead of God’s presence. Some years ago I had to ask an acolyte not to serve at a Communion service. She had dyed her hair such a color that I didn’t think the congregation would be able to not focus on her. What stands out about all that is the acolyte understood and did not take offense.
The messages we give our teenagers more generally are much different. We tell them to find something they’re really good at and pursue it. We tell them to make their mark on the world. We tell them to be the best they can be at whatever they choose. We make a big deal about putting their names in programs for recognition. We encourage them to get awards. We talk about the resumes and records they are forming. We have big soccer ball magnets on our cars with our children’s names on them. We put signs in our front yards letting the world know they are on the football team. We want them to know how proud we are of them.
Yet with our acolytes we don’t emphasize standing out. We tell them to blend in, to not attract attention to themselves, to conform and accept the traditions we give them. At other times we ask them to be more but, as acolytes, we ask them to be less. We tell them they are important but they are not the center of the universe. Being an acolyte is not about them, it’s about the Church and God.
Perhaps it is true that being less is the best advice for the kingdom. It’s not that we don’t value them as individuals or don’t expect good behavior. But we ask them to recognize that the congregation has not come to see them; they have come to see God. If we will get out of the way well enough, they can see God, and that is our biggest job.
What we tell acolytes is really what Jesus told the disciples. Go out there and serve so that others can see the Lord and come to him. Don’t attract followers to yourself; just follow. Keep your focus on God so that others may see God better.
What if you and I were simply to serve, rather than try to make a name for ourselves, in any given situation? What if we recognized that the name of Christ is really more important than our name? What if we sought to be a little less instead of a little more? In order to take up our important place in creation, rather than learning to stand out we must learn to follow.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
Sunday, October 6, at noon
Thursday, October 10, at 5:00 pm
Sunday, October 13, at noon
Tuesday, October 15, at noon
Sunday, October 20, at noon
Plan to attend one of these 45 minute meetings, hear our vision for 2014, and pick up your pledge packet. Those unable to attend will be called on by a canvasser. Begin now to consider your financial pledge to your church.
Wednesday Night Series Begins This Week
Eucharist at 5:30—Supper at 6:00—Programs for All Ages at 6:30
Adult Class: The Historical and Biblical Development of Satan
Financial Peace, a course on financial planning, will be led by Price and Dinah McLemore, on Monday nights beginning October 7. An informational meeting will be held at noon on Sunday, September 29, if you would like to hear what this is about. You may register through the church office.
Young Adults Party: Sunday, September 29, 4:00-7:00
1904. S. Hull Street
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Burgers, Hot Dogs, and Beverages Provided – Bring a side dish or dessert
Blessing of the Animals – Sunday, October 5, 5:30 pm
In the Labyrinth Garden