It is summer worship in full force here now, which means, you never know who will show up. Our 8:00 a.m. outdoor service was held indoors today, because with 96 percent humidity and 58 degree temperatures, it certainly felt like rain.
But, it didn't. Rain, that is.
It is the second Sunday since the Senior Pastor retired. I have been making lists of people to pray for, and visit, but working mostly on worship, and funerals. There is another funeral this week.
In the past the person who did not preach has had the children's message. I decided that, for a few weeks, my children's message will be a brief lesson and practice in prayer. This would be easy and would not take much preparation (at least, that is my hope.) So, at the second service (where I felt a little more prepared for the children's message), seven or eight children of varying ages came up, including a two year old girl whose mother brought her up. She shyly toddled over to me, and I took hold of her hand. I had some of the children go to the Lecturn and say something they thanked God for, after which everyone in the congregation would say, "Thank you God."
Except, I forgot to turn the mike on. So my new little friend and I toddled over to the Lecturn and turned on the mike for the children.
I worked from notes for my sermon today, "Passionate Spirituality, or How Not to be Like Simon the Pharisee." I haven't done that for awhile. I was a little shaky at 8, but better at 10. The sermon might have gone a little long though (that's the hazard without a manuscript).
I told a story from my youth as a fervant, hands-in-the-air type of Christian, and how one of my painful memories was how mean and judgmental I was to people who loved me, like my aunt and uncle who are my godparents. I even (I am embarrassed to say) sent them a letter at one time. Thing is, they wrote back and they were still NICE to me.
I looked out at the congregation at the services today, and I saw a few young families with small children, single parents, teenagers; a man in a wheelchair faithfully recording the service; I saw the woman who fell after worship last week, with her arm in a sling; I saw some of the young people who will be going on a mission trip later this summer; I saw a family who got hard news about a diagnosis this week.
And I pray that throughout this coming week, they will know God's presence, God's power, God's love -- that the crucified One suffers with them, loves with them, and will give them courage to be God's people where-ever they are.