I am a member of the Christ Church Cathedral congregation. My involvement extends to the point of being formally on staff in the role of Verger, which means I open the Cathedral for Sunday services, make sure everything is in place for the services and close up after all is said and done. Another role of the Verger is in the Procession, as “bodyguard” of the clergy. In the modern world, most clergy don’t need bodyguards, but it is a carryover from the times of King Henry the VIII. I do carry a verge, which is a rod of wood, used for corporal punishment or a riding crop. I have never needed to use it for protection, but it is an interesting story to tell.
Anyways, the reason I mention this is for background on the rest of my post. On Monday night, April 15, I gave the public reflection for the service. This week is Holy Week and we have services each day, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.
My reflection as written is as follows:
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’
Expressing faith by sitting at the Lord’s feet is something taught to me from the earliest days of my life. My parents took me to church, every time the doors were open. So it was very natural for me to attend Bible College, studying theology.
But that said, simply sitting has been hard for me. And it took me years to realize that I was like Martha. I like to feel useful, doing things. As an adult, I attended a Pentecostal church, my childhood tradition. Not being musical or having position on staff, I participated in the ways I could. Our church used projectors to put the songs on a screen. And I found that whenever I was not on the schedule to do the overheads, I was sitting in service with a distracted mind. I was trying to be Mary, without truly understanding my Martha side.
So to challenge the expression of my faith, I went on a faith journey that started by visiting the Cathedral. Visiting the Cathedral was to be one stop in a journey through the denominational faith traditions. Little did I know the Cathedral would become my home.
From the first service I attended, and meeting family, I felt immediately at home, not simply with you, the peopl, but with the liturgy as well. The ministry of holy communion reminds us of the two great commandments, spoken by Jesus. Love God and Love your neighbour. And it is in the expression of loving my neighbour I find faith.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
Our way of life is good works, and an expression of our faith. Martha was distracted by the good works she was doing. She allowed her view of Mary to distract her from the importance of her own role. It is human nature to compare ourselves to others. But doing good works and sitting at the feet of Jesus is something we all must do. There is a balance to be made.
I’m still not perfect in this, but having taken on the role of Verger, and before that Crucifer, has given me an interesting perspective. Each of our Sunday services are different. It’s not different in a bad way, but different in that each appeals to different people in different ways. And myself, they all appeal to me in different ways.
I have the opportunity to be both Martha and Mary in our services. And for this, I thank God. I enjoy the quiet meditation of the early service. I enjoy the marvellous songs and sounds of praise of our sung Eucharists. I enjoy the changing seasons of the church calendar.
I enjoy making sure the Credence table has been placed in order for the service. I enjoy the hospitality of the position of Verger. I enjoy making sure everything is back in it place after service.
The expression of my faith in this Anglican tradition has been so enriching to my life. It helps ground me in life, while compelling me to express my faith through good works, in community volunteerism, in political action, in service to this congregation.
I am throughly blessed in the opportunity to express my faith, through words and action. I hope you can say the same.