Today was one of those days that nothing prepares you for. I woke up exhausted, feeling I hadn’t had a wink of sleep, and knowing that it was going to be one of those days. After the usual round of emails, that included a delightful surprise (more about that later), I made my way for the annual rector’s obligatory Christmas Eucharist for the Rector’s Guild. This is an organization that was founded decades ago, by a rector who was hoping to encourage women of the parish to support particular projects that he thought were worthy. Over time, it has become primarily a social organization and its membership is largely rather elderly.
I attended the meeting today and celebrated Eucharist for the some twenty-five women who were in attendance. I neglected to bring the pile of service booklets that were on my desk, so when I arrived, I decided that it would make most sense to celebrate a Rite I Eucharist. As I said to the ladies in attendance, most of them knew the responses, and then I quipped, if they didn’t know the responses in Rite I, they probably shouldn’t belong to the Guild. Indeed, the responses were loud and clear, and when I announced we would be doing Rite I, there were exclamations of joy.
I had a delightful time, connecting with some folks I rarely see, and enjoying being with a group of women in a context I rarely have the opportunity to be in.
This evening was a very different celebration of the Eucharist. I decided, very last minute, to try a Celtic Eucharist during Advent, choosing Tuesdays, because it seemed the best night, given other activities at Grace. Tonight was a revelation. The numbers weren’t particularly large, but given the minimal publicity, to have 13 in attendance is something of a feat. But more remarkable were the demographics. Of the 13, six were young adults and/or relative newcomers. They had heard about it only from our internal publicity. Since I’ve been at Grace, we’ve attempted a number of things on weeknights in Advent and Lent–Evening Prayer, Eucharist, book studies, but tonight’s turn-out was by far the largest for anything we’ve done on our own.
Of course there’s a certain amount of curiosity, but I think trying something new is worth the effort. I’m especially encouraged by the presence of young adults and am hopeful that when the Episcopal Campus Ministry moves to Grace in the New Year, we may find new ways of reaching out to students and young adults in our neighborhood.
It might also be that a straight Rite I service could be as appealing to people as the Celtic Eucharist we’ve been doing this Advent.
Let’s try it and see!