I was terrified of doing this. For all the Sunday school classes and Bible studies I’ve taught, somehow stepping behind the pulpit and speaking to the entire congregation loomed very large in my mind. And the fear factor just kept getting worse as the day approached. I worried that I would be Captain Obvious, wasting people’s time with spiritual cliches. I worried that I would say something clever and new, and it would turn out to be heretical. I worried that I would trip on my way to the pulpit, or say “Um” a thousand times, or start to cry. I worried that the people who always glare would glare at me. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. today after having a nightmare that the headset microphone wouldn’t stay on my head.
It was really ridiculous.
And then the moment came, and (thank you, Jesus) it was right after we’d finished singing “Jesus Paid it All”. That hymn includes the lines,
I hear the Savior say, “Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”
My strength indeed was small, approaching the pulpit, but then…it was fine. I became calm and focused and I had the beautiful sense, which I’ve had several times recently, that I was exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should do. It was a gift; that much I know.
I preached on the baptism of the Lord (Mark 1:1-11), having decided to just go with a lectionary scripture, rather than waiting for the perfect sermon idea to drop down from heaven. It turned out to be just the right scripture, I think, at least for me. It said what I needed to hear.
My nose started running uncontrollably at one point. Apparently all the stress left my body by way of my sinuses. I had to pause and get a kleenex and wipe my nose in front of everyone, which is the sort of thing I’d usually find embarrassing (I’ve got issues). But even that episode was no big deal. I kept right on going.
People clapped when I was done, which we typically do not do in our church. Weird, but very, very sweet. I love my church
It’s hard to talk about calling without feeling like I sound narcissistic or faux-spiritual or something. But really, what I feel is a mixture of humility and confusion and wonder and gratitude. Not a bad way to live, when it comes right down to it.