I don't know why I was so tired when I came to church on Sunday morning. It was a beautiful day. It was the second Sunday in Lent. We were going to install our new church council at both services. I had my sermon all ready: "Animals of the Bible." I felt good pretty good about it.
It's true, that the day before we had a Council Retreat, which was wonderful, and invigorating and exciting, where we dreamed some dreams for the coming year and maybe even saw a couple of visions too. It was a wonderful day, and we were well-led, but I was surprised about how exhausted I felt at the end of it all. Dreams and visions make you tired.
Then again, it might have been that last minute trip to buy some little toy chicks for the children's message.
Sunday morning I woke up and took my dog on an actual walk all around the apartment building. For the first time in six weeks, I was without the boot. But it made me a little later than usual for church, where I needed to get ready for the first service, set up for the first session of our new Adult study, and give instructions to the special musician (a pan-flute player who, as it turned out, did not speak English).
At the first service, I remember that I called Lent "Advent" once, during the announcements. I think I stumbled over a few words of liturgy. I hope nobody minded.
Everything ran a little late, so I raced over to the fellowship hall to begin the first session of the adult study. It is on faith practices, and I was a little nervous about whether the series would go over.
The first session was on prayer. I had a ten minute DVD and a couple of pages of notes and possible questions. We were starting late, and I was giving an overview of the session. But as soon as the DVD was over, I decided to ask for their initial reactions.
And you know what? People started sharing, honestly, about what they heard or thought about prayer, whether they prayed all of the time, and easily, or had problems with prayer, whether they knew what to pray for, or were at a loss for words. They shared barriers to prayer and what helped them with prayer.
My heart was strangely warmed.
After a little while, I realized that I did not want to cut this conversation off, even though the service ran late. I asked them if we could take an extra week on prayer so that we could cover more of the lesson.
They all agreed, heartily.
Before I had to leave for the second service, I taught them something I used to use with confirmation classes: a prayer called a "popcorn prayer." I said it is a popcorn prayer because it is just one word, and you can pop up with that word anytime, and it is all right if people say their word at the same time, and when the popcorn stops popping, then you are done. Then I told them they could close with the Lord's prayer. I started them off, and as I hurried over to the second service, I could hear the popcorn prayers popping.
And my heart was strangely warmed.
Over at the second service, there was a guitarist and drummer, set to go. A few people were settling in, with more to come, some after the service began. We are currently "in interim" musically, at this service. We are in the process for searching for a new music leader. In the meantime, one of our young members has been a part of the interim team. He started off the service with "Lord, I lift your name on High." A little later we sang "Shout to the Lord." And I could hear the voices of the congregation, singing with joy.
My heart was strangely warmed.
A baby fussed some, during the sermon. I hope it was okay, but I stopped and said, not to worry -- it happens sometimes. I didn't want the parents to feel bad.
Afterwards, I got so many compliments and comments about this young man, and how well he did.
I was so tired on Sunday morning. I don't know exactly why.
But I know this.
My congregation held me up. Their songs, their prayers, even the sound of the baby crying.
We are partners in the gospel. Never let me doubt.