Tonight, it became official. Big Church and Little Church are now one church with two buildings. Our Bishop came to town tonight for a 3-fer: he joined the parishes, installed the pastor, and accepted a seminarian to the candidacy so that he can head to Rome to study at the Pontifical College.
I've gotten over whatever ambivalence I might have had about the merger. It can be a Very Good Thing. There are a lot of wonderful people in Big Church and in Little Church, and when we all get to know each other, I think it will be great.
But we are still seeing things in terms of "us" and "them." At the reception afterward, a member of the choir I sing with every Sunday was talking with me about tonight's music (more on that later.) She mentioned that there were problems with the organ in Big Church, where today's Mass was held. Little Church recently got a new organ, and we joked that you can't just put an organ in a pickup truck and cart it from place to place. Then she said, "Let them raise the money and get their own organ."
"There is no them anymore," I reminded her. "It's all us." And too many people are thinking that way.
Middle Sister was honored to be one of six altar servers for today's Mass. She carried the cross in the procession. Big Brother and TheDad, with the other Boy Scouts and leaders, participated in the Offertory procession. That left me and Little Brother in the pew. Boy, is he a wiggly one. Kudos to TheDad for putting up with that every week while I'm singing! Little Brother does sing the songs and say many responses. He was interested in watching the Knights of Columbus, particularly when they had their swords drawn; he was fascinated by the incense, but didn't understand why they needed to incense the altar more than once during Mass (wasn't once enough, Mom?)
All the musicians from both churches were invited to participate in the special choir for today's Mass. But my choir is a folk choir, and we were told that we were welcome to sing, but guitars would not be used. I was actually told, "Well, the Bishop is coming, and we wanted the music to be special..." (thanks for that!) Also, nearly every song today, other than the acclamations, were brand-new to everyone, so no one in the congregation could sing along, especially when the songs were not in the program or hymnal. So anyway, it was unfamiliar music and I was a little insulted that my instrument was not welcome. Add that to the fact that the choir rehearsals were on Boy Scout meeting night, and that sealed the deal--I would be part of the congregation today.
I guess I should go now and have a little cheese with my whine....
Little Brother and I sat and enjoyed a fairly unobstructed view of Mass (good when you have a little kid with you). I sang everything I could from the pew.
I saw a lot of empty seats in church today. I had expected that the church would be packed--that Little Brother would have to sit on my lap because it would be so full. Instead, he had plenty of room to move around so he could get the best view of anything going on, whether at the altar or pulpit. It saddened me that Mass today was not as full as it could have been. I am hoping that this does not mean that people have jumped ship (I know some who are considering it) or were boycotting the ceremony to make a statement. I am hoping that they were just on vacation or attending graduation parties.
May God bless the new parish that was established today, as well as the new pastor and the seminarian on his way to Rome. And may all of us stop thinking in terms of "Big Church and Little Church" and remember that we are one Church.
Even if guitars aren't special enough for the Bishop.