Date: August 11, 2022
Yesterday morning, 53 students and faculty gathered at St. Cyprian’s Labyrinth for the first worship service of the morning. Despite the August heat (and an invitation from Dr. Strout to wear comfortable clothes), I chose to wear my usual Sacristan uniform of cassock and cross. No, I’m not a glutton for punishment; rather, I knew that wearing my vestments would help new students to spot me as they tried to find their way to the labyrinth. And, indeed, it was a joy to greet all the new students as they arrived for their first prayer service on campus.
That is the calling of the Sacristan team – we take care of the small and easily neglected details that allow worship to flow smoothly. We maintain the list of community intercessions (feel free to email email@example.com if you have something you’d like the community to be praying for). We mark the daily readings in the service Bibles. We prepare the elements for Eucharist and light the candles. We make sure the linens reflect the correct seasons, and we keep them clean. We do the dishes and arrange the hymnals and change the water in the baptismal font. Throughout it all, we enter into worship ourselves, knowing that no act of service goes unnoticed by our Creator.
Having grown up in less liturgical traditions, I originally wanted to be a Sacristan because I thought it would be a great learning opportunity. That hope has certainly been fulfilled – I can tell the difference between a credence cloth and a fair linen, and I know the proper uses of a paten and a pyx. I have taught many new officiants how to tie their cinctures, and I’ve trained our youth acolytes in the use of the lucifer. I am grateful for this knowledge, because it allows me to appreciate the work of the altar guild and other volunteers that will one day support my ministry as a priest.
So, throughout this year, I encourage you to get to know your Sacristan team: Janettarose Greene, Lisa Work, Si Engstrom, Michael Alford, Kimberly Dunn, and myself. We’re glad to talk about what we do and to share some of our knowledge with you. And, know that we hold you in love and prayer as we go about our duties. We look forward to seeing you in the Chapel.
Virginia Theological Seminary, M.Div 2023