1. One Sunday I was just at the beginning of what I thought was a pretty incredible sermon. Not long after the first sentence or two left my lips, I thought I was hearing Another Voice. At first it seemed rather indistinct, but then it became clear! It was the Senior Pastor! He had left the sanctuary to go and make a phone call to a member of his family, who was ill. Except that he forgot to turn off his microphone. I tried a couple more sentences, but found that I wasn't getting a word in edgewise, while out of the corner of my eye I spied an intrepid usher, darting out the back door. A minute later the Voice died down. I found a suitable quip, recovered my wits, and went on. The sermon's title, I believe, was "Hearing voices." At least two people thought the gaffe was intentional.
2. Another time, out at the prairie parish, the youth were leading the service. They had just gotten back from a trip to New Orleans. They were sharing prayers, lessons, the sermon, and even some of the songs. I was to accompany them on the piano. At one of my churches, they had an old piano and round piano swivel stool right in the chancel, although it was rarely used. (The organ was up in the balcony, in the back.) I sat down at the piano, put my foot on the foot pedal (at least in part to show that I was a Real Piano Player) and then thought to adjust the seat a little backward. As I lifted the seat I heard an audible gasp from the congregation ... because they knew something that I did not. They knew that the top had come off of the piano stool. I had a rather inelegant landing, but we went on with the service nonetheless. When I recounted this story at my other church, someone remarked "how come nothing good ever happens at our church?"
3. A couple new to the church wanted to have their little boy baptized. We were in the beautiful sanctuary together, surrounded by stained glass windows of the eight days of creation. We were rehearsing the baptism service, when suddenly, a mouse ran across the floor! The family joined the church anyway, and is now quite active.
4. Today the special music was a duet written by Natalie Sleeth and performed by a couple at our church. They have been singing together for many years. He also chants sometimes on Sunday morning, and sings often for the Matins service we have on Wednesday morning. They both have beautiful voices, and have sung together for many years. He has early onset Alzheimers, though, and sometimes he makes a mistake, sings the wrong words, chants the wrong line. Today, however, they both sang perfectly. The song is called "Hymn of Promise" or "In the bulb there is a Flower." At the close of the first verse are these words:
In the snow and cold of winter
there's a spring that waits to be
unrevealed until its season
something God alone can see.
"For we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us." 2 Corin. 4:7