Usher Observations




I’ve been an usher at church the last two weeks. I usher again this coming Sunday. At first I was a little bit leery about being an usher. The main problem is that our traditional worship service begins at 8:55. That means to begin fulfilling the many usher duties (handing out bulletins, taking attendance, collecting tithes, taking compliments on how good you look in a suit and tie… the list just goes on and on) you have to be at the church at 8:20.

Getting to church that early is a bit of a struggle for me. Actually getting to church at 8:55 is a bit of a struggle for me. I’m not sure why. I don’t have to get up any earlier than I get up for work and Saturday nights are not a big social night for me. In fact, it is rather frequent that I don’t make it to the church on time. I frequently have to pull the move where I sneak in when people are shaking hands and greeting one another, which is about 5-10 minutes after the service has started.

Being an usher I can’t pull that slick move. The bulletins aren’t going to hand themselves out and who are the people going to tell that they look good “all dressed up”.

However, I have realized that their is a plum benefit to being an usher that more than assuaged my doubts about the position. More than offset my fear of screwing something up during the big time Easter service, but I need to give a bit of backstory before I explain this benefit.

I was hoping to lead of this entry with a picture of the FUMC’s cornerstone, but I just never made it down to the church to take such a photo, so I settled for the picture of our outdoor cross. If memory serves me, the church was built in 1890.

Now I don’t know how much it has changed over the last 100 or so years because I wasn’t around in 1890. However, in the Fellowship Hall, there is a picture of the sanctuary from 1893. The sanctuary has changed since 1893, but the pews in the picture appear to be the same pews that are in the church to this day.

On a personal note, I really like the picture of the sanctuary in 1893. I love old photographs. I love old photographs of places I know even better. What I don’t like is that whomever put this picture together, put the mat in wrong side out. What should be the back of the mat is facing out. It annoys me a little bit, but that is my own set of baggage.

I made a trip to Living History Farms the last time I took some vacation time from the computer mine. While I was touring the 1900 Farm, I heard a couple of guys comment to Shannon about how people were shorter back then.

This was the highlight of the tour for me. I knew what was coming. I know it is a deep felt issue for Shannon that people learn that people were not shorter back then. I had heard this information from her before.

She calmly explained to them that people weren’t shorter back then. Furniture was smaller back then. Dressers were shorter because people had less clothes. Beds were shorter because people slept sitting up.

I have no reason to doubt the veracity of Shannon’s statement. She took the time and energy to do the research. What she says is undoubtedly true. However, when I sit in our church’s 1890 era pews almost every Sunday, I have to wonder if she checked on the average height of Methodists from the 1890 era. Almost every Sunday that I’m packed into that dinky little pew, I feel like Methodists must have been shorter in 1890. I feel it in my legs and knees.

The plum benefit of being an usher is legroom. I don’t have any when I sit in the pews. It is infinite when I am an usher. I am basking in it. I’m bathing in it. If I haven’t made it clear enough yet, I’m loving every second of it.

When you are an usher you get to sit outside of the sanctuary. You could say that having to sit outside of the sanctuary is a drawback to being an usher. I don’t think it is really much different than being inside the sanctuary. When Andrea leads a prayer she says, “I invite you to be in an attitude of prayer”. I think the attitude just outside the sanctuary is the same as it is in the sanctuary.

So I’m looking forward to one more week of legroom and then it is back into the sanctuary with the rest of the sardines.

5 thoughts on “Usher Observations”

  1. I love those myths as well. They are commonly heard at historic homes and living history sites. Low ceilings are often used as someone’s evidence for shorter people as well.

    I’ve read a little about this and it seems that Americans actually have grown taller since early settlement, but not by a substantial amount. The studies range anywhere from 0.5 inches to 2.0 inches.

    Of course 2 inches is really miniscule in the whole scheme of things. It wouldn’t be enough to explain short beds and low ceilings.

    There are actually some interesting studies on how Europeans are growing taller and Americans are not.

    Interesting stuff.

  2. See, a fellow historian agrees. Although, I’d hardly call myself a historian. Anyway, you sit in the angled pews. Would it make a difference if you came out of your shell a little bit and sat in the middle pews? Are they further apart?

  3. I have sat in the middle pews. In fact I sat there for the Good Friday service. It was actually worse. Although I have been thinking of moving away from sitting in that corner. My seat is obstructed. My sister likes that seat for reasons that are unknown to me.

  4. You do realize that you are one of the largest men on the face of the earth, right?

    You should do a list of the most difficult/annoying things for large men. I would be interested to see that since I am extremely average.

  5. I might be above average, but I’m not that tall.

    I might make that list. I can tell you that #1 on the list is being asked to get things down from high places by short people. They could get it themselves if they would only apply themselves.

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