Today was my first day serving at the altar. I had to get all dressed up in cassock and cotta, learn where to genuflect, bear the chalice. As my supervising cleric says, it's a dance. There are a lot of subtleties and rules that only make sense once you start dancing the liturgy.
As scary as it was to be in front of the congregation, I wasn't the focus. Most people were focused on the prayers; some might have been watching the priest very closely and watching all his little acts. And in that I could rest easy. My little errors, my hesitations, my imperfections were all brought into the dance. The other ministers, lay and clerical, all experts in the dance of liturgy, could lead me along.
I also learned today that it really is the blood of Christ. Giving the chalice to the people is a powerful, most holy experience. Watching people kneel at the altar and handing them this cup of wine showed me how real God is. In serving them, in holding the chalice to their lips or dipping the bread in the wine, it felt like, well, communion.