my facebook status: "successfully preached a sermon, out loud, in front of a congregation. (We about doubled the size of the congregation. If I'm remembering correctly, there were 13 regulars, 2 returning, 12 just to hear me, plus me. And I communed EVERYONE by name.) Scott [redacted] gets almost all the credit for my good pacing."
I have since thought of at least 3 people (2 who came just for me, and one newbie-regular) whom I forgot to count. [Mike R. commented on facebook: "I stand in awe of the Elizabeth fan club. :) And I stand within it!"]
We sang "You Are Mine" at morning church, and I wished I had thought to request that for tonight. But Cassandra did "Wade in the Water," which was so so good ("If you don't believe I've been redeemed...").
We did all 4 lectionary readings -- I think Marla revised the Isaiah a little bit to be less enforcing the gender binary (Ari, I thought of you) -- and Marla asked me to do the Luke reading, so I was already standing at the podium to start my sermon.
I felt so so nervous, but I spoke slowly as I'd practiced with Scott (he stopped me like 2 lines in and made me start over 'cause I was going too fast -- said, "when it feels painfully slow to you, then it's just right for the people listening")
, and when I could feel my breathing shallow I took a conscious breath between paragraphs (hey, it's a sermon, it can be a meditative pause, and it's a sermon so no one's going to think I'm done and interrupt) and I know from years of lay reading to look out at the congregation and make eye contact and I was really glad that I was able to do that so smoothly -- the only time I looked back at my text and couldn't immediately find my place I apparently knew the sentence well enough that I could seamlessly continue saying the sentence from memory and had found my place by the time I finished the sentence.
Afterward, Melissa jokingly asked if I wanted an Ativan next time, but she interacts with me on a daily basis and is a trained professional therapist. Everyone else used words like "poised" and "professional" and "calm." And there were people who were surprised that this was my first time doing this. (I said I did have a lot of experience doing lay reading.)
I was the first person to lift up prayers (I totally waited to see if anyone had anything pressing), and as Tiffany was saying them back to me she dissolved into coughing (she's been sick and overdid it today) and Annie had to jump in and be Emergency Backup Minister (TM some friend of Melissa's). When Tiffany and I were talking after dinner, she said that she was so sad to have to let Annie take over, said she'd had a beautiful prayer in her head. ♥ (Earlier at dinner, my dad had applauded Annie for doing the pastoral prayer wrap-up, and she said that she had learned it from the master, aka Tiffany, who has made it a habituse for this congregation -- which is trufax.)
During Passing of the Peace, Kristy(sp?) who had come with Michael Z., thanked me for my sermon, said it was one of those instances of the right message at the right time. I was really touched and thanked her for letting me know. In retrospect, the message that "You are a Beloved Child of God" is a message that it's hard to go wrong with, so the praise for the content
of my sermon doesn't necessarily say a lot (though I do totally think my sermon was on par quality-wise with the previous 9 I've written), but that is also arguably the most important message there is, so I'm okay with my preaching debut being this.
Communion included an invitation to water or anointing oil, and after we'd communed everyone and Marla and I had communed each other, I communed Tiffany and she anointed me and then I anointed her. She has a supply of vials of oil (from RMN -- they have a rainbow tree on them that says, "One Family Tree") which people were encouraged to take home with them. Ari, I took one for me and one for you.
And there was dinner that wasn't pizza.
And lots of the visitors said very kind things about the community and the welcome and the atmosphere. \o/
My parents got to experience my church, and meet both the pastors I care about before they leave. And both of those pastors got to hear me preach before they left.
Tiffany said she hopes she gets to continue reading my sermons, and asked if I'm going to go back and catch up [the last sermon I posted was, belatedly, for Advent 2] and I said I planned to try and she said she suspected as much. She said that pastors often think they can go off lectionary and no one will notice "because who reads the lectionary?" but of course I do and so whenever she goes off lectionary she knows that I'll notice and she has to acknowledge it in her sermon. She said that when she's writing a sermon there's a little me in her head -- that there are lots of people in her head when she's writing a sermon, but that I'm always
Oh, and before service Laura Ruth said, "I have been praying for you all day," and cadenzamuse
both lifted me up in prayer at their morning churches.Edit:
After dinner, Tiffany was reiterating her suggestion that I'm Called to ministry -- pointing out that God doesn't usually speak in such clear signs as the heavens opening but rather in ways like the people around us.
me: "But we're called to be in the world but not of the world, to not necessarily listen to the majority voices around us."
Melissa: "Are you two arguing by quoting Bible verses back and forth?"
me: " ... A little. Which possibly proves Tiffany's point more than it does mine."
[We did agree that preaching/teaching sort of ministry, not pastoral counseling kind of ministry.]Edit2:
Near the end of our conversation Saturday night, Scott said, "Remember to have fun. I know that you have the souls of everyone in the congregation in your hand for those minutes, but remember to have fun," and, "You get to make them be more righteous."
And I did remind myself, as I was feeling nervous as the room was filling up and throughout the day, that everyone was here because they love me. ("They want you to succeed," Scott had pointed out.)
And a couple people did say things like that the Holy Spirit was moving when I was preaching.
There is something really wonderful about so many being so loving and affirming (and I didn't get to everyone during Passing of the Peace because there were so many people and I was having so many hugs and conversation), and I'm feeling more positive about the experience with some distance -- though I am also understandably hesitant about the idealizing effect of distance.