Monday, August 26, 2013

A GOOD DAY IN CHURCH

Stained glass at St John's Episcopal Church, Thibodaux LA

Today was a good worship day for me at St John's.  For a change I was early, and I had the opportunity to sit quietly for a spell before listening to the Prelude, Beethoven's "Sonatina in G Major", performed beautifully by our music director on the piano.  Therein lies a lesson that rushing in at the last minute, or worse, following the procession down the aisle, is not the best way to arrive for a service.  The liturgy was done well and properly; the sermon was interesting and enlightening; and the musical choices were very much to my taste.

Still, good days for me have less to do with the service itself - the preacher, the music, who is present, than with an attitude of heart open to praising and thanking God.  Some mornings, my attention to prayer is limited, for distractions abound, and my mind wanders everywhere but to the meaning of the words in the prayers and hymns.  This morning, I slipped easily into prayer and remained attentive longer.  Grace, all is grace, but I expect not rushing into the service at the last minute plays a part.  As I've already said, there's a lesson here.  Still, what is also true:
The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
After the service, our visiting priest did a show and tell about our fly spoon and said how rare it is to find such a spoon among the altar vessels.  He explained that in the olden days before air-conditioning, when windows in the church were open, insects flew in, and flies were attracted to the wine.  If a fly or other insect flew into the chalice and couldn't make its way out, the fly spoon was used for removal.  Below is a picture of St John's fly spoon.

Fly spoon

The spoon is silver, not gold, and is not tarnished as it appears in the photo.  The refection in the bowl of the spoon is of the stained glass window above the altar depicting St John the Evangelist, our patron saint.  The reflection on the cross may be the same.

I knew the purpose of the spoon, because I served eight years with the wonderful women in the Altar Guild.  Though I tried my best, I was not well-suited to preparing the altar, for I am not a detail person.  The priests I served under were understanding, and my fellow members were kind, but I suspect they sometimes despaired of me ever getting it right.  In truth, I never did.