This past Sunday no acolytes showed up to light the candles at the worship service. Sometimes this just happens and it happens in all churches. People don't show up, but life goes on. In our church acolytes are kids from the third to sixth grade, and they receive extensive training. It's a big deal to be an acolyte. And this Sunday something truly remarkable happened.
But first you must know that in addition to lighting the candles on the altar before the service and extinguishing them afterward, another part of the acolytes' job is to hand out the offering plates before the prayer, and then walk behind the ushers, collecting the attendance registration pads. When there are no acolytes, the liturgist just fills in and hands the ushers the offering plates.
But this Sunday there was a young boy sitting in the second row. When he saw that there were no acolytes to hand out the offering plates, he got up, went to the altar, and gave the plates to the ushers. It was a spontaneous gesture and he carried the job off flawlessly. There was no hesitation. He slipped in so quickly that nobody seemed to notice. The ushers took the plates and the service went on.
I was so impressed that the boy felt free enough to just step forward unbidden. These aren't many adults who would do the same. I wasn't the only one touched. I saw several others tear up too, because we know this boy.
I'm so thankful that our church is the kind of place where children take an active role. It speaks to the overall health of the church that when there is a need, someone just steps up--not with a lot of fanfare but just because the job needs to be done.
To me this also says something about being a Christian. When there is a job to do, a Christian is the kind of person who just helps out--no criticism, no expectation of praise, just a willingness to do the work of God.