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Behind the Scenes
If you have ever watched a play from back stage, you know that things look very different from a different perspective. A play, after all, is produced so that it will be viewed from the audience's point of view not from back stage.
Most of us recognize how important what happens behind the scenes of a play is to the entire production. Sets and props need to move on and off stage at the appropriate time; characters need to enter and exit on cue; and sound effects need to be produced at the right time.
I wouldn't want you to think that a worship service is a dramatic production, but every church service has a lot of people working behind the scenes to make it happen. In a small congregation, like the one where I am Pastor, the weekly worship service requires more volunteer and staff time than any other ministry we have.
A group that works diligently behind the scenes at our church is called the Altar Guild. In teams, they set up the communion ware and clean the chancel. I think they enjoy what they do, but they do take their work very seriously because they are precise and careful in performing their duties.
This past Sunday, one member of the Altar Guild took her last turn at preparing for the worship service. The limitations of age have made it too difficult for her to continue. What is interesting about her retirement is that the first Sunday she ever prepared the church for a service was January 3, 1966 fifty years to the day before her last Sunday on Altar Guild.
I am at a loss for how to best recognize Pat's fifty years of service to our congregation. It almost seems like a contradiction to be too noisy about such quiet acts of service. I know there are others: ushers, choir members, and communion assistants, who are serving and have long tenures of service. They also serve in similar fashion: quietly, conscientiously, and behind the scenes.
However we mark these years of service, what I know for certain is that God sees these efforts. More importantly, God sees our hearts. As much as it is mine to know, I believe that Pat and many others have served for decades in response to God's goodness shown to them in Jesus Christ. Their service is the product of God's grace at work in them.
For all the human work it takes to have a worship service, God is at work when His people are generous with our time and effort. And, when God is at work, we are all blessed.
Pastor Dan Czaplewski