Every MDiv student in the seminary is supposed to be part of the “rota” for leading chapel services. Chapel happens 3 times a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) with the Tuesday and Thursday services being short topical services and the Wednesday service being a regular service (1 hr) including communion. It is these longer services to which students are assigned.
My turn came this week. Our team included three other people: a scripture reader, a preacher, a presider, and an assistant. The presider is an ordained Lutheran pastor, required since communion will be served. He decided, that since this was foreign territory for me, I should jump right in and act as his assistant. It is foreign territory.
I was asked to arrive an hour and a half before the service for some training. That was a good thing. My job was to pour water into the baptismal font, hold the book, turn pages, read a couple of prayers, set the communion table, serve the wine, clear the table, and read words of leaving. Each step is full of symbolism and meaning. I managed them all, with a little prompting from time to time. It was a good, experience overall.
Did I mention the Alb. I was asked to wear an alb. There were no pictures taken so I add this one so you get an idea of what this is.For Lutherans the alb symbolizes the cleansing from sin that they receive through Christ. Putting the garment on made me feel just a little more like I could legitimately perform this duty. Sort of like a policeman gets some of his authourity through his uniform, the alb did project me to a different place.
Serving communion with a common cup was cool as well. I got to look each person in the eye as I presented ” Christ’s body shed for you” to staff, students and my professors.
The service was solemn and full of symbolism. The seminary is a little more relaxed. In fun, the pricnipal dean said “well done, we’ll make a Lutheran out of you yet.