They all filed in together at the last minute - just before the Minister himself appeared. They were all in dark suits, white shirts, and ties. Black shoes with lots of eyelets. Or was that just one especially old consistory member?
Elders and deacons - the consistory. They were the Minister's "guard" I guessed. They stood in a solid row right in front of me; they held their Psalter Hymnals with one hand, the other hand behind their back. One was especially interesting - he always kept his fist closed behind his back except for his index finger which stuck out while his thumb nail ran back and forth along it. This was the leadership of the church, the guardians of good order, orthodoxy, and dignity. They did not smile. Ever.
These men embodied the culture, the demeanor, the ambiance of "church", of worship, of leadership.
Today the deacons in my church are in charge of outreach in our community. They are young, diverse, informal, and they laugh. Their shoes don't have many eyelets. Unless they're running shoes.
I like to think these deacons are a picture of a church with lots of doors and windows, lots of laughter, lots of diversity, and a joyful exchange of gifts among people who have been blessed in lots of different ways. I like to think these deacons see their church life and their regular walking around life as delightfully mixed up. I like to think they don't spend too much time counting money and deciding who will take the offering next week. But what do I know? I don't attend all their meetings. But I'm thankful for their energy and compassion. I'm thankful for the guys in the dark suits too. I just like my deacons better. How do they feel about their deacon job? What specifically should I be praying for? How could I concretely be more helpful? I guess I don't know. I think I better find out.