When the iPhone first hit the market, a clever ad campaign showed what it could do. The ad had the tag line, “There’s an app for that.” If you wanted to look at the night sky and see the constellations, there was an app. If you needed directions to a restaurant, an app. Even the Episcopal Church has jumped into the app scene by creating programs to pull up the Book of Common Prayer, Bible study programs, and other handy things, when you are on the go. And I am not immune to the deluge of all. Apple’s app advertisement got me thinking about our liturgical church.
The robe that clergy and altar servers wear on Sunday is called an alb. From the
Latin word Albus, meaning white, an alb is a robe-like garment that comes down to the wrists and ankles. It is one of the oldest liturgical vestments with a history dating back to early Christians who wore it when celebrating communion. In our liturgical tradition, the alb is worn to cover our street clothes and to remind us of our baptism. Imagine George Washington and a farm hand serving as chalice bearers at Falls Anglican Church in 1773. They both wore albs which removed their societal status and showed they were one in baptism and in Christ.
What do apps, a new invention for smart phones, and albs, an ancient liturgical
garment, have to do with each other, other than a few similar sounds and letters
of the alphabet?
Since the iPhone ads say they have an app for anything you can imagine you’d like your phone to do, I can imagine the Episcopal Church having a similar campaign saying, “We have an alb for that.” If you have a pet that you would like
blessed, we have an alb for that. Want to celebrate your daughter’s fifteenth
birthday? We have an alb. If you would like your house blessed, do not worry
because we have an alb for that, too. Prayers for healing? Getting married? If
you have a need, we have an alb.
I have met new parishioners who were introduced to the Episcopal Church by friends who essentially said, we have an alb for your needs. I have done weddings and funerals for folks who are new to the Church simply because a friend said we have an alb for that. I have prayed and laid hands on people in hospital rooms because a friend said we have an alb for it. In a couple of weeks, we are going to have a Ministry Fair where you can learn about different hands-on ministries at Saint John’s. If you are interested in serving at the altar, we have an alb for you. And, if you have a friend who is in need, you are invited to tell them, we have an alb for them too.
- Fr. Marshall