Monday Morning Blues

Monday Morning Blues January 2, 2006
The Pastoral Relations Committee asked me to communicate more with the congregation, thus this blog. Most days I am happy to note my general observations of the world, but some days the world just doesn’t seem to be especially rose-colored. Or funny.
So here’s an entry about the cold, hard reality of Sunday afternoons . . . and, this week, also Monday mornings.
Warning: if you prefer to see the pastor as someone who is always positive, joyful, holy and inspired, you may not want to read this.

I used to work with a pastor who said the worst time of his week was Sunday afternoons–they stretched out long and lonely in front of him, full of time to hash and rehash the morning worship service. I never knew exactly what he meant until I became a pastor myself, but now I do. This week especially was very difficult as it seemed that everything that could possibly go wrong in worship yesterday did:

  • the sound system did not work
  • the music minister was sick
  • I screwed up the words in the baptismal formula while baptizing one candidate
  • the service was way too long–lasting well over 30 minutes past normal
  • the people who were baptized didn’t have enough time to change to get back up to the sanctuary for their testimonies
  • I neglected to announce that ushers would serve communion to those who could not make it up front
  • I forgot to mention the communion offering
  • if I had a complaint box containing a slip for every complaint I received yesterday (about anything related to church), it would now be filled to overflowing

My mother-in-law always tells me that I should never criticize a service because I can never know how God has worked through what happened. And, she’s right, of course. The truth is, despite some glitches, yesterday’s service was full of moments of grace.

  • We got a chance to hear from Elizabeth Evans, a divinity student who worked at Calvary last summer. She’s right at home at Calvary and everytime she steps in the pulpit I can see more ease and self-possession. Watch out, world! Elizabeth’s going to be a star (here’s her picture).
  • We baptized three new church members who are respresentative of the growth and vitality of our congregation.
  • We came to the table of Christ to be nourished together for a new year of faith and service.
  • We heard an aria from Handel’s Messiah by Jenny Chen, a fabulous soprano in the choir.
It’s good for me to write these things down, because in the hours after a worship service like the one we had yesterday I do feel lonely and discouraged. Sorry to disappoint, but the truth is that I am human, too. On days like yesterday I find myself wondering if people really know what it feels like to be me.
But when I write down the moments of grace I can get a glimpse of the reminder that I am not always in control of everything, that the goal of gathering for worship is not really to present a polished, without-a-hitch presentation . . . that the only thing that really matters is whether God was there.
And in the eyes of yesterday’s dripping new believers, the soaring sounds of Jenny’s voice reminding us to “rejoice!” and the promise oozing from every word Elizabeth spoke to us . . . all of us recognized the presence of God, even without a working microphone.
This is the truth that sends me right back to the drawing board, planning what worship adventures we’ll encounter next Sunday, hoping that no matter what I come up with that God will show up anyway.

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