I have decided there should be a course in seminary entitled- "Can You Lead with Peace When It Looks Like This?" I speak from experience. Last year I preached while I heard the furnace blowing a pipe off the wall in the basement. Because "here I stand I can do no other- Lord help me." And that turned out alright- I mean not for the pipe or the furnace for that matter, but we were all OK. Frankly that is a miracle. And as it was happening I knew I should be scared, but oddly I wasn't. Then there was my non-worship event with the guy who broke into the office which I blogged elsewhere.
So tonite, I had agreed to cover for my sister in ministry in the city so she could be at a quinceanera for one of her confirmation kids. Simple informal evening worship- thank you Jesus, that sounds lovely. And it was. But I always travel with my phone because I have parishioners in ill health and a family and the three buildings of the parish. I put the phone on vibrate in my bag behind the altar. As I am leading the prayers I hear it buzzing. Then as the elements are coming forward I hear it and while the congregation is singing I look down and see it is the sexton and the alarm company's calls I have missed, and as I am saying the words of institution a third call.
I have to confess that by now I was seriously believing there is the real possibility of a fire at my church. But here I am and the people are about to encounter Jesus and all I can do is lead them in the best prayer of all, the one Jesus taught us.
Ironically I had just preached about how we can let our anxieties get the best of us and we can forget about the fact that every thing we do is in Jesus name believing in God's power. And so, struck by the irony, I picked up the bread and just kept telling people that this is Jesus for you.
As it turned out I must say that trying to tighten a screw on one of the alarm pulls had set off the system. The sexton was calling to say he had it under control and then the alarm company telling me they were sending trucks and another call to tell me there really was no fire. For which I indeed give thanks.
But the last line of my sermon ( the one I will probably post after it is preached again tomorrow) is this-
Jesus gives us good advice and they don't call him the Prince of Peace for nothing.
That may indeed be the thesis for the class entitled " Can You Lead When..."
And for that matter when all we are trying to do is follow you, Lord.