Sunday, August 04, 2013
I wrote here about why I choose to wear jeans or shorts to church, instead of “dress-up” clothes. Today was a new riff on that old theme.
Today was a remarkably cool day for August. So I wore jeans and my bright red Episcopal Campus Ministry t-shirt.
And I was to serve as usher.
Now, the way “being usher” works in my parish is this: Ushers have a role in greeting, liturgy, and safety. We greet folks in the narthex and distribute the service leaflet. Two ushers carry the oblations [bread and wine] forward, receive and pass the offering plates during the offertory. During communion, two ushers guide folks forward to the altar rail. Here, we recently designed the church space so that the nursery is visible across the narthex from the back of the nave. When I’m usher, I stand at the back of the nave through the whole service, so I have a view of the front door, narthex, and nursery. (You can read more about why here.)
Ushering is a two-person responsibility, since it requires two folks to bring the oblations, pass the offering plates, and direct folks forward during communion. Sometimes a married/partnered person is assigned to be usher, in which case s/he has a ready-made partner. If you’re a single person (as I am), you pick someone to work with you as usher.
So there I was today, in my jeans and t-shirt, and needing someone else to help me. I nabbed my friend Jeanie Bryant when I saw her arrive, partly because she truly does it “decently and in order,” with a beautiful sense of reverence. But I also chose her because her dress is the direct antithesis of mine: She’s always dressed beautifully: dress, heels, hose, pearls or other accessories.
After the service, some friends commented on what an “odd couple” she and I made – she in her lovely dress and pearls and me in my jeans and t-shirt. My response: “If we want to claim to welcome everyone, we need to make that visible.”
This summer, we’ve had an unusual number of visitors in our parish. I hope folks today saw that they truly can “come as you are.”