First I can’t believe how long it’s been since I blogged – I need to find a way to keep up a better schedule. Secondly, I was blessed to preach at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mt. Airy, NC back in early June. It was my first time presiding at a worship service of an ELCA church never mind serving communion. Despite a few missed dance moves and being in the wrong spot for the part of service – this was a giving community that extended much grace to me.
I preached here following a previous Sunday when I was told I couldn’t really preach, so my nerves were off the chart, yet once again – grace abounded. I think my sermon was well received and I felt more prepared to preach in a denomination different from my own tradition.
I say that the Lutheran (ELCA) has dance moves not out of disrespect but out of my tradition where there is no specific place you need to be as you lead worship- anywhere is fine, except for during communion and baptism. For communion we are behind the altar or better known as the communion table and for baptism we gather around the baptismal font which is always placed at the front of the church. I quickly learned that this is not the way you do it in an ELCA church. I think I got most of the moves correct, except I did the prayers of the people from the pulpit. Yet no one rebuked me, instead they just offered words of encouragement and said they hoped I would be back someday to share the gospel with them again.
Now the (I know it’s out of sync, but I promise I followed the service as it was supposed to be) liturgy and I’m not sure where to stand so I just stood in the middle of the chancel area. Thankfully, one of my best friend’s husband
is a Lutheran so together we were able to format everything to fit on my iPad and he gave me some insights into how things should go (he now answers his phone when I call, “Hello, Lutheran Help Line” or something along those lines).
I serve as Chair of the Lutheran Moravian Coordinating of our Full Communion agreement so it was such a blessing to participate in a worship service where I was not only able to preach but to serve the elements of communion. Our document Following Our Shepherd to Full Communion allows us to both serve and receive communion in either of our denominations. We often share pastors and interims, when they might not be available within our own denominations or when an outside denominational partner maybe able to tackle something we may not be able to do ourselves. Basically, we share resources as well as the table that our Lord has prepared for all of God’s faithful children.
I couldn’t thank St. Andrews more for giving me this opportunity. This blog would not be complete without the acknowledgement that I wouldn’t have had the right clerical garments (other than a collar) if it weren’t for my revgalblogpals friends — Lynette made me a beautiful stole (and one for my husband) and Emily gave me a cream/white robe that she no longer needs. Nothing I asked for but given out of love and grace. Grace definitely was the gift of this experience for me.