The Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service last Tuesday was wondrous. But I did get off to a rocky start. Up at 3:00 A.M. to turn off the alarm clock, in a half-sleep state I stuck a bookcase and whacked my nose. I slumped onto the foot of the bed and after a few seconds slid to the floor in a semi-faint. Until yesterday I thought I had broken my nose, but it feels fine now. Back on my feet with Jonnie Sue’s help, I was at St. Alban’s about 4:30 to help Annemarie make it ready to host the media corps and volunteers from the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC), and then to the Cathedral about 7:00 to help with the final preparations for the service. In the entrance procession I verged in six participants and then sat in the Great Choir, just two choir pews away from and alongside the Marine Band. It was definitely the place to be. I found myself strangely moved during the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” I’ve sung it before, but never was so touched by the words, especially verses 2 and 3. Then came the sermon; so enthusiastically received by the congregation. I think it may have been the best I’ve ever heard. Here are links to the text and the video on the Cathedral’s website. I don’t know how long their site links live, so you might want to have a look sooner rather than later.
Serving as one of the Cathedral volunteer vergers is a sublime joy. Not the least part of it is the other vergers. They are a cooperative, competent and caring team, serious about our duties but still relaxed, outgoing, and welcoming. At one point I had that feeling that I’ve had a few times before, such as 30 years ago when I was part of a small group in a conference room at the Main Treasury Building creating the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. It is a feeling that we all experience at one time or another. It is that feeling of humble wonder of how it has come to pass that I get to be part of this.
Then afterwards to check in with the PIC volunteers still at St. Alban’s and brief them on locking up. Then to lunch with Jonnie Sue and one of our dearest friends, a coworker at the Senate, both of whom had attended the service in the south transept, some of the best seats in the cathedral.
I’m truly grateful for such a wondrous day.
Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC.