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Pastor demonstrates super human strength when day off threatened

October 12, 2012

So I’m struggling with the whole day off thing.

The question is which day to take: Friday, or Monday?

I have been taking Friday like previous pastors here and in deference to my spouse, who points out that we may sometimes be able to take a quick weekend trip with the kids and be back in time for Sunday morning worship.

The problem, of course — as those of you who are pastors already know — is that to have an actual day off Friday means being finished with the sermon by Thursday night. And that’s always a tremendous task. (I know the struggle will continue at least until I wise up enough to change my day off to Monday – a day in which I am no good to anybody anyhow.)

Yesterday, however, I surpassed myself in efforts to vanquish all that stood in the way when coming in sight of an actual uninterrupted day off. Since this comedic scene was wasted – no one else was there to witness it – I will relive it for you here. (You’re welcome!)

Here’s yesterday: Mostly a day of visiting homebound folks and serving communion. In between those appointments, I wrestled with this Sunday’s sermon – which by the way, is the rich man who was seeking eternal life but leaves  dejected after Jesus tells him to sell all he owns and give it all to the poor. Hoo boy. Thank you, Lectionary.

At 6 p.m., the last member had been visited and the last word has been typed on my sermon.  Two consecutive committee meetings were to start at 6:30. My weekly routine is that I always run through the sermon at least once in the sanctuary. And I am a creature of habit. Got to preach to those empty pews and then hope and pray for a stronger response when I am actually looking into human faces on Sunday.

At 6, I have just enough time to be all done before the next meeting. My office is across an alleyway from the church. So I print out my sermon, run over to the side door of the church, unlock it, dash into the sanctuary somewhat like Usain Bolt would if he were a middle-aged, unathletic white guy. Much slower and with far less grace, in other words.

As I turn the corner to head up to the pulpit, the sight before me stops me in my tracks: There is no pulpit.

There is no communion table, either.

No big puffy chair which is normally there to comfort by ministerial backside.

The chancel is bare.

I look around, confused. I see the communion table against a wall. But all I need is the pulpit. No sign of the pulpit. The clock is ticking. Twenty minutes now until the committee meeting. Flashing before my eyes is the possibility that I might have to interrupt a day of movie watching, or fishing or irritating my wife to drive up to the church and do the final sermon run-through.

Finally though, I locate the pulpit in the hallway behind the chancel. Now, it is a small pulpit, made for pastors who were born in the late 19th Century. It is however very sturdy – much like people of that era — and surprisingly heavy.

I saw no choice.

I looked around for the sexton or some unsuspecting member who happened to wander by and could be guilted into helping the pastor. No luck.

Clock ticking.

I grabbed onto the pulpit and dragged it, a few feet at a time, around the corner into the sanctuary and to the bottom of the steps leading to its normal spot.

Then,  facing a vision of failure with the possibility of my day off drifting away, I grabbed the pulpit across the top in a final burst of strength, and I lifted it like the Incredible Hulk up to its rightful place.

Then, sweating, I huffed and puffed through the sermon.

But it felt great.

Hello day off.

(Postscript: By the way, I found out afterward that everything had been moved for a wedding this weekend. Because we have such a beautiful, old church, nonmembers rent it out. I apologize to everyone connected to the wedding party and/or other church staff who will be surprised to find that the pulpit is back and in place, and especially to the person who has to move it a second time. I hope you understand. Blessings on your marriage.)

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