Monday, September 9, 2013

Removing Distractions

I have been a member of the Altar Guild for as long as I have been an Episcopalian.  That would be about 11 years now.

The Altar Guild is a worship ministry in a given parish that is devoted to the care and setting up of worship-related items.  One regular duty of the Altar Guild is to set up the altar for Sunday worship services.  Following each service, members clean up the sacred vessels and prepare linens for laundering.  Since the priest is the person charged with making sure corporate worship is both organized and uplifting, the Altar Guild follows his or her (in the Episcopal Church, women can be priests) lead in how things are arranged and maintained.

One priest gave me this bit of guidance that has served me well for many years, and not just for the arrangement of church items.  He said, "One important thing we have to do as ministers, is to take away anything that distracts people from worshiping God," whether it's a sloppy fringe on an altar hanging, misplaced vessels or a dirty table covering.  People can go overboard and become fussy about such things, but that is not the proper intent behind our attention to detail.

Carrying this advice to other areas of my life, I seek to remove those things (such as petty jealousies, preoccupations, negativity) that distract me from God and doing his will.  I try to avoid being a hindrance to others in their spiritual journeys.  Better yet, I strive to be helpful as they seek God's will in their lives.

I'm not always successful, but these are my goals. 

Photo Credit: By Christopher John SSF [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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