In our church, the students in confirmation classes (grades 7 and 8) take turns assisting the pastors. On a rotating schedule, they are assigned to particular church services. The pastors are always joined by several adults who serve as deacons and assisting ministers (to read the lessons, help distribute communion, and read prayers) and by two confirmation students who serve as crucifers (the people who carry the cross to the front of the church as the worship team processes in from the back of the church at the start of the service), hand the offering plates to the ushers, and collect empty communion cups from congregants during communion.
Suzanna has been assigned to serve for 9:00 A.M. church on Easter morning, so we'll be spending the weekend here rather than driving to any family member's home for the holiday. And because we'll be here, we plan to attend all the special church services this weekend: Maundy Thursday service tonight, a tenebrae service for Good Friday tomorrow, an Easter vigil service Saturday night, and an Easter morning celebration on Sunday.
Tonight's service focused on Jesus' last supper with his disciplines and his service to them (i.e., washing their feet--see John 13). One memorable aspect of the service was at the beginning, when we were invited to come forward for a laying-on-of-hands pastoral blessing ("In obedience to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins"). Another was at the end, when members of the altar guild stripped the altar to prepare for the solemnity of tomorrow's tenebrae worship. The church's two choir directors (of the adult choir and the children's choirs) chanted Psalm 22 from the balcony as guild members, dressed all in black and wearing black gloves, removed the Bible, liturgical books, candles, communication dishes, and cloths from the pulpit and altar, piece by piece. As they did so, the lights over the altar area were dimmed one by one. After everything was bare and dark at the front of the church, we all departed in silence.