As most of you know (and all likely find amusing), I was asked to sub-deacon at St Paul's by the Lake yesterday. St Paul's is the church I have gravitated to here in Chicago, mainly because it has a conservative bent (specifically opposing "The Issue"), which appeals to me. The flip side of that is that St Paul's is as high church as you can possibly get, they even bust out the 1928 prayer book (apparently to the utter horror of the Bishop of Chicago) at least every 2 weeks or so.
Being th elow church Anglo-Calvinist that I tend to be, I sort of have mixed feelings about it. I have to admit, on the one hand, I am not used to going to a service that you would mistake for a Pre-Vatican II service. Its "Old School" to say the very least. There is no free standing altar, the priest has his back to the congregation for most of the liturgy of the sacrament. They even use the Puritanical elements from the 1940 hymnal. Needless to say, I have mixed feelings on the theology. However, I must admit I enjoy a parish that thumbs its nose at episcopal authority, even if they are doing it to be ueber-Catholic. A weird dichotomy to be sure.
But I get along quite will with the rector, and they do a lot of good outreach, especially to the immigrant African community. But in any event, I was asked to sub-deacon yesterday at the All Soul's Mass because we had to do like 5 baptisms and the poor rector was about to pull his hair out as the other seminarian that goes there was out of town. As my friend Andrew would say, Oh, the Humanity!
So here sits a Puritanical Anglo "bust out the stain glass windows"Calvinist at the altar with all the smells and bells. Yes, in case you were wondering, I had the entire garb on, dalmatic and biretta (the pompous hat pictured here) I wasn't wearing a collar, but I had everything else on, including very royal looking vestments and hood. Despite all the Anglo-catholic chicanery, I actually have to admit I enjoyed the service. Being a eucharistic minister in the old school was quite touching when I got to say, "the body and blood of our lord Jesus Christ, keep thee in everlasting life." If ever I felt the power of God in a church service, it was right then.
Though I am still sorting out what to think of all this, I have to say at the very least I have a better respect for the traditional catholic liturgy. Feel free to jump in and comment. Honestly, I'm glad I got to experience it, but its somewhat of a theological enigma for me at the moment.