Sunday reflections . . . a little late. . . oh well.
I pulled off my first church service today . . . the first service where I helped organize the order of worship for the morning and evening service . . .the first service where I preached. And I must say, I think I'm getting the knack of being a minister. That's what this experience is all about . . . more intensive training in the ways and means of handling congregations and leading God's people. It's an opportunity to begin to walk out who God says I will be . . .who I am.
The congregation said I'm off to a good start. That was encouraging considering I wasn't sure about the message. You never know what to expect when you tell a group of people they are hypocrites, especially on the first day you stand in the pulpit.
But hey, I blame it on the text. . . on Jesus really. That was the message he was getting across in Luke 7 in regards to Simon's view of the "sinner woman" . And that was the text I was called to preach and the message God delivered in the midst of my exegeting. I included myself in it of course, but a message about judgement and condemnation is not exactly the one I thought I would have been preaching on my first day . . . it's definitely not one you'll hear people shout about . . . or one that elicits "Amen's" and "That's Right!"
And if they do, as a friend says, it's more than likely because they think you're talking about someone else other than themselves.
Nonetheless, the word went forth. But it's my experience in the midst of the proclamation and the entire service, really that I reflect on. Something happened. . . something that I notice happening more and more as I take my place behind the pulpit. . . in front of congregations. I seem to stand a little more taller. . . with more confidence . . . and speak a little more authoritatively. More and more, I notice God taking over in those moments and I hear my voice saying things I didn't even think I knew or remembered and I hear it in a tone that sounds unlike my own. (That's exactly what happened during the alter call for congregational prayer.) And I feel a sense of urgency to say what I need to say . . . and I have a strong desire to do -- absent of fear and doubt.
A change is definitely taking place. And I may have -- in part -- my favorite Public Storage manager to thank. She prayed with me before coming here. While I can't remember all she said, I do remember her praying for God to build my confidence. And I remember her looking me straight in my eye saying that I would return changed . . . better . . . more self-assured.
Funny, she didn't even know that I struggle with my confidence. Nor was she aware that during that same week another friend had been praying the same thing concerning me. And I had been praying myself.
I can't speak for the days ahead, but I can say that on today, that boldness manifested. I surrendered . . . got on the passenger side of the car and allowed God to slide into the driver's seat. And what unfolded was a beautiful exchange between me and the people God called me to serve that day. What began to be unveiled was the "minister self".
And if I must say, it wasn't a bad look.
Is this another branch broken? Not quite. . . but there is at least a crack in the wood.