I have been doing things pretty much the same since I arrived in Warsaw 4 1/2 yrs. ago, except to some extent I have toned down the ceremonial a little. The service is not less reverent I would say, just more close to what they were used to before I came. There are some areas of my liturgical practice, however, that for the longest time I have known needed improvement, but for one reason or another I just haven’t “gotten around” to changing them. That sounds horrible, but it is true that once you get comfortable with a certain practice, it is hard to develop it or change it.
One thing I am going to be changing is the practice of having lay assistants help distribute communion. This was something that was done before I arrived, but now I think it is time to make an adjustment. For as small a congregation as we are, this is simply not a necessity. Instead, what I am going to do is begin having the two young boys in our church serve as acolytes, wearing cassock and cotta (or surplice). For our purposes I only need one at a time. He can carry the processional crucifix, light and extinguish candles, and collect the “empties” during communion. Before, there would be two of my elders, one to distribute the individual cups, and one to collect the “empties.” If this is not an outright violation of AC XIV, it is still not a good practice in my opinion. Now I will be administering both the Chalice and the Individual Cups. Much better, methinks.
I also need to be more consistent with using acolytes. I used the young boys for a while, but got away from it for some reason. There is simply no reason those boys cannot be learning the ways of the chancel, when to kneel, genuflect, how to fold their hands, how to conduct themselves in the Church, particularly during the service, what the ceremonies mean, etc. There is no excuse on my part for not putting them to good use except maybe laziness. Okay, so there is no good excuse. They are in church every Sunday (thanks to their father) and they pretty much do whatever I tell them. This would enhance the service as well.
Another change concerns the use of the Propers. As much as I would love for the words of the Psalms to be on the lips of the people, they just do not feel comfortable with chanting them (musically speaking). They will still be in their ears if I chant them. This will eliminate the frustration of having to look at something other than the hymnal for parts of the service that are not in the hymnal.
These are just a few things that I am considering. I am open to suggestions from those who have made similar changes.