The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Starting a new year, moving the ribbons

posted by jmcgee

sacramentary.jpg
It’s something most of us aren’t even aware of, but it is done in countless churches around the world this time of year — and the Concord Pastor reflects on its meaning:

This weekend I will observe a little ritual which it’s been my pleasure to carry out now for some 37 years. I will move the ribbons in the Sacramentary to the collects and preface for the First Sunday of Advent. The ribbon for the collects brings us back to the front of the Sacramentary such that the left hand page will not easily lie flat but will buckle up a bit against the right hand which holds a year’s worth of pages yet to pray through.

This is, I know, a small task but one which never fails to remind me that the Church is beginning a new year, another year of celebrating our life in Christ and the saving events that bind us together as the Body of Christ: a new Year of Grace.

I’ve moved those ribbons in suburban and city parishes and in campus chapels. The ribbon-turning began when I wasn’t altogether sure of where the ribbons were supposed to go. And I moved those ribbons in years when I wondered if I would remain in this ribbon-bound priesthood. I changed the ribbons in years early on when I found the Sacramentary to be somewhat limiting that same book became an old and reliable friend. I’ve actually worn out a Sacramentary or two and even before trading in for a new copy, the ribbons themselves have sometimes needed to be replaced.

I’ve turned the ribbons back to Advent in years of the Church’s grace and in years of its disgrace. Those ribbons and the book they mark have been with me for coming close to four decades and I thank God for the grace of all those years born of the prayers and rites the Sacramentary offers us.

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Theresa Henderson

posted November 27, 2010 at 5:21 pm


I remember the first year we had the “turned around Mass” at our country parish and our priest was having difficulty keeping the book open. He’d been one of the priests not happy with the new Mass and the frustration showed on his face.
It was a morning Mass for the schoolchildren, before school started each day. I sat in the first row on the farthest end seat.
An altar boy tiptoed over from where he was supposed to be and reached up under Father’s elbow and pinched the corner of the book and pages together, amidst a sudden hush from the school children.
Mass continued and from then on Father had a “book pincher” at his side. I was little enough I made up my own terms for things of which I didn’t know the names.
I’d long since learned the name of the Man with all the ouchies who made my daddy cry when he looked at Him.



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David Trumbull

posted November 29, 2010 at 11:24 am


I am a layman who tries to say the Daily Office every day. For many years I said it out of a book. Now I read it off my computer monitor or even my Blackberry which means that I can say the office when traveling without having to carry around the book. But miss switching the ribbons back to the beginning of the book on the first Sunday in Advent. That little act help to make more concrete the concept of a beginning a new year.



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