A number of months ago the power went out for a short moment at the Sunday 8:00 am mass. It was only for a moment so most people did not think much about it. I, on the other hand, was truly surprised, and this is why.
It occurred during the ablutions. The ablutions are the washing of the vessels after communion. Traditionally water is poured into the chalice twice during the ablutions. First the priest consumes the remaining sacrament in the chalice, then water, (sometimes wine and water), is poured into the chalice, and the priest consumes the water. Then water is poured into the chalice again, and the priest consumes the second pouring of water. It is one of the ways we show respect for the Body and Blood of our Lord. The remaining Sacrament is to be reverently consumed after the people have all received communion.
Truth be told, I suffered from a bout of laziness and mediocrity, and I assumed it was sufficient to skip the second pouring of water into the chalice at the 8:00 am mass. The second I skipped the second pouring of water, the power at St. Mark's went off! It was as if God was saying, "You fool! This is St. Mark's after all! No shortcuts when it comes to the liturgy!" I have never skipped the second pouring of water since.
One of the things I love about our church is that we take worship seriously. Whether it is the care of the church for worship through the flowers, the altar vestments, the music, the ritual, or the ceremony, we strive to give our best to God each and every day. The same care is given to the Monday mass as is given to the Sunday high mass. The same reverence occurs early Sunday morning in the spoken mass as it does with the chants of the Sunday night Evensong. We are blessed with so many opportunities to worship God at St. Mark's. It is our primary form of outreach and evangelism.
If you have not been to one of the weekday masses, please join us sometime. These masses are said in the Lady Chapel, and they are very powerful in their simplicity. Likewise, if you cannot come on Sunday morning, consider coming to the quiet vigil mass on Saturday evening in the Lady Chapel, or join us for Evensong and Benediction on Sunday nights. Perhaps you had a stressful day at work? Join us on a week night for Evening Prayer at 5:30 pm and watch your stress fade away through the evening prayers.
The worship of God continues faithfully every day at St. Mark's. We are reminded that when two or three are gathered together in God's name, God is in the midst of them. Also please be assured that whenever prayer is happening at St. Mark's, you are being remembered in the prayers of your fellow parishioners and by God. It may be that the power does not go out every day when we worship, but do know that God is present, and that God is hearing every word we say, and enjoying every act of worship we offer.
Father Paul Lillie+