A ministry of joy...
This ministry can also be understood as a ministry of joy. The ushers and greeters invite everyone who gathers to enter into the joy of the Lord. This means, of course, that the ushers and greeters must be in touch with that joy themselves. That's easier on some days than on others. On some Sundays, we may have to push ourselves to manifest the joy of Christ; but when we do that, we benefit as much as those whom we greet. The conversation between an arriving worshiper and an usher or greeter is often very brief, especially as the time for worship nears and the number of people arriving increases. But brief doesn't have to mean superficial.
If you see someone whose spouse is ill, you might ask how he or she is doing. If you greet someone who is out of work, you might inquire how he or she's holding up. If you welcome someone who has recently lost a loved one, offering a word of sympathy may be very appropriate. If you greet someone whose child is away at school, you might ask if they have heard from the child and how he or she's doing. In other words, what's most appropriate is the kind of conversation that says, “I care about you and your loved ones." This kind of conversation makes evident the love of Christ that binds us to one another. It's much more powerful than idle talk about sports, or the weather.
Ushers' duties before people arrive
The work of the Minister of Hospitality begins even before the assembly begins to gather for worship. Good hospitality requires attention to the physical space into which people will be welcomed. When you know that visitors are coming to your house, you pick up, dust and vacuum so that your guests will enjoy their visit. Although ushers usually aren't responsible for dusting, vacuuming, and putting away things that clutter the gathering space, it's often needed. The roles of the usher and greeter are crucial ministries for the worshiping community. Those who serve in these capacities have the potential to add greatly to the experience of worship for all who gather. Like the Good Shepherd, they reveal God's love in our midst and help us become more aware of that love. May the Good Shepherd give them strength and wisdom as they serve the flock in his name.
What do I need in order to be a Minister of Hospitality?
There are a few prerequisites for being an usher/greeter.
- Be a registered member of St. Anne and possess Called to Protect certification with the diocese.
- Be a baptized and confirmed member of the Catholic Church who regularly receives Communion.
- Be a reliable person, and accountable for their duties.
- Be a friendly and outgoing person who has a welcoming presence.
- Be a person who is adaptable and able to think at a moment's notice for any changes that present themselves.
- Attend all ongoing formation opportunities offered by St. Anne.
Activities, Events, News, and Information
So how can you take this Sunday theme to heart and put it into practice? Hospitality is a Christian form of charity. St. Benedict wrote in his Rule of Order that his monks should receive the stranger as Christ himself. We follow that rule in our Christian faith communities. We make welcome visitors regardless of race, color or creed. The inspired writer of Hebrews 13:2 warns Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. The first reading and the Gospel deal with hospitality and the welcoming of the stranger who is God/Christ Himself. The second reading, while it deals primarily with suffering, at the very least reminds us that welcoming the stranger may sometimes call us to inconvenience ourselves or even be unpopular or misunderstood for the sake of showing hospitality to others.
Wouldn’t you like to see St. Anne’s be a more welcoming parish? Wouldn’t it be great if someone greeted you when you came to Mass? How about you stepping up? While this is a small step, it is an important one and one most can do easily by coming to Mass early, which is particularly true for lectors and EEM’s. Take a door for which there is no greeter and just open the door, smile and welcome your brothers and sisters. We could also use more outgoing, helpful ushers; you can volunteer there, too. While everyone should volunteer for a ministry that suits them, here is an opportunity which only requires being part of the St. Anne community, although we would like to find someone to take charge as well. Please consider it.