He hadn't had much training.
His first stab at learning to be an acolyte was embarassing. He'd been handed a torch, which he immediately brandished as a light sabre. Yells of dismay followed that action, which he responded to with "Whaaatttt?" It turns out that the torches are no longer actually candles. They really ARE torches, with oil in the bottom and wicks that come up through something that looks just like a candle. Luckily, he jerked it back up before oil got all over the carpet. The other kids quickly took it away and they just talked through what he would do as a torch bearer.
On Youth Sunday, though, he carried the small crucifix. In our procession, the big crucifix is followed by the two torch bearers and then the small crucifix follows them. During the service, the acolytes sit in a pew facing the side of the altar. Z sat kind of hunched over, fidgeted a bit and kept reaching up and fingering his hood. You could tell he was just dying to put it up over his head so he could be "Sith Acolyte."
The kids that did the reading were great. They read with strong voices and got through even the difficult pronounciations with little trouble. I was pretty impressed with them!
Darling Man actually came that Sunday. He wanted to see his boy do this for the first time and he wanted his boy to see him sitting there being supportive. But it's a different kind of thing for him. My friend Julanne sat with us and she and I having been raised in the Episcopal church, knew all the words, when to stand, sit and kneel (some days it almost qualifies as an aerobic workout). And we sang. Julanne has a gorgeous voice and I suspect she can even read music so she sounds like she knows what she's doing. I, however, cannot read music and have to guess at where the next note is in my voice. Episcopal hymns are difficult to start with so unless you have musical training, it's hard to sing without hitting some major clinkers. On more than one occasion, I caught Darling Man grinning at me. It's a me he very rarely sees. The me that goes to church, kneels down to pray and sings hymns badly in a bold voice. His "church" is the woods; his prayer is the exertion of his body as he rides his bike up difficult trails; his hymns are the steady in and out of his breath. It's a different experience to sit on a pew in a big building.
Afterwards, we all headed to the parish hall for the covered dish dinner. What a feast!!! Darling Man was thrilled with the wide variety of salads and vegetables and fruit plates. There were also numerous casseroles, both with meat and without. Fr. Randall made barbecue that was wonderfully melt-in-your-mouth tender. And the dessert table was laden with all kinds of goodies. DM and I loaded our plates and found a place to sit, saving a seat for Z, who was still de-robing and putting things away back in the church.
After the initial rush, and people had settled down to serious eating, Fr. Randall got up to say a few words. Our Senior Warden introduced him, explained that we were celebrating his 25th Ordination anniversary and gave him a new Book of Common Prayer/Hymnal all-in-one. She also announced that a fund had been set up in his name to purchase a new (or good used) organ for the church. Already we'd manged to collect nearly $1000 dollars towards it. That's a good thing - our old organ is pretty much dead apparently and we've been doing all our singing to the piano. It's okay, but not quite the same.
He was touched. Until this day, no one had celebrated any of his anniversaries but him. That's a shame. What he doesn't seem to know is that he is becoming beloved. His sermons are interesting and inspiring. He's worked hard to make this church work after some pretty awful betrayals of trust that left the church where it was when he arrived. But the people, even in the short time I've been here, have become more like a family. Groups are getting together and spending time getting to know each other. The youth group is becoming more of an entity. The ECW (Episcopal Church Women - of which I am one) is planning fundraisers and social gatherings and getting this congregation back on its feet. We have a rector who cares and I think we want to make sure he knows that we do too.
It must be gratifying to see the pews fuller each week, to look out on a gathering of his people and see so many enjoying each other's company.
And ZBoy? He loved the whole business of acolyting. He liked the robes; he liked the processional; he even liked sitting up front where he could see everything. When I asked him if he thought he'd like to do this on a regular basis, he nodded. "I could get on board with that!"
And a fifth generation of family acolytes has been initiated.