Nov. 18 - Give thanks for Ushers!
Ushers? That's an odd thing to be be thankful for, right?
But, if you think about it, aren't ushers the quintessential symbol of the servant? They are the largely unnoticed helpers who glide about in the back of church, only coming forward at the appropriate time to help take up the collection. If you didn't already know the names of the same ushers you see every weekend, you probably still don't know them. That's how ushers are. They quietly serve.
Here are some of the things we saw ushers do this past weekend:
-a child was coughing (and coughing and coughing) during Mass. Suddenly, a friendly arm reached into the pew, offering a cup and a bottle of water to the child.
-latecomers to Mass became the most important people in the world, as the ushers arranged to find seats for them (and they were friendly about it, too, as though now Mass could REALLY start because thse wonderful people had arrived!)
-doors were held open
-pathways were created for the altar servers
-after everyone was seated in a very full church, an elderly woman with a walker made her way into the narthex. She was noticed by an usher, who immediately welcomed her and went to asertain her needs. Should she be seated in the front? Did she need to be near the bathroom? The usher found out the woman also needed a seat for her caregiver, who arrived a few minutes later. Somehow, two more seats were located and the pair were led to them.
-during commuion, the eucharistic ministers were led straight to 3 different people, in different parts of the church, who were unable to walk to communion themselves. The ushers had found these people earlier, told them not to worry and that they would be taken care of, then followed through on that promise by bringing the ministers to them.
Watching these people go about their work was truly witnessing a sign of the Kingdom of God. They are all volunteers, who sign up and faithfully show up. They are not helping for their own glory, not in any way. They just want to help people so that everyone can have a good experience of Mass; can particpate and pray well and have an encounter with God. Everything in their ministry is about everyone else and everyone else's needs.
The show "Everyone Loves Raymond" poked fun at Raymond's father, in one episode. Ray accused his dad of only wanting to be an usher so that he could hang out in the back, gossip, and skip praying. That may be true in the show, but on reflection, have you actually ever seen most ushers blow off what's happening in the Mass? The exact opposite seems to be much closer to the truth. Most of the time, the unseen ushers are very much aware of what is happening, and they maintain an attitude of respect.
Wouldn't it be something if more of us acted like ushers, not just at Mass, but especially when we leave the church and go out into the "mission fields?" Next weekend, notice those men and women who give up their time to serve everyone else in the church, and think about how we can imitate them.
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