'I came to you in weakness, with much fear and trembling'
So says the Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians (in the New Testament for non Bible geeks...) and so say I! Today, as I mentioned in my last post, was my first time leading a full service with a sermon in church, and in a packed family service in Barcelona no less! As I got ready to step up to the lectern I looked out on the congregation and wondered, for what must be the hundredth time, what on earth I was doing to myself. I practised all week not wanting people to feel my nerves and so be put off from what they were there to do but there they were, those pesky nerves, always bubbling up when you least want them to!
|The church in one my MANY practice sessions!|
People say 'fake it till you make it' but I've never been much of an actor. I had one terrible attempt at secondary school where I forgot my lines about two scenes in and and just kept repeating the one I remembered over and over again. Not my finest hour! But today, as I started to speak and felt the now familiar words forming on my lips from all my practice, I realised that the one thing I had going for me, bad acting aside, was that I really meant these words. I really wanted to welcome everyone there 'In the name of Christ' and really wanted to talk about love and peace and joy and blessing. Speaking those opening words made me smile and then I knew I was going to be ok.
The fear and trembling seems all right this side of things. It's the evidence that, finally, I am doing something that really means something to me. After the service, and gathering some feedback from the congregation, I went upstairs to my room, and the spectacular view it gives me over Barcelona, and had a little cry. Not because people were critical (except for my preaching speed which, quite frankly, is comparable to the speed of light! I'm working on it!!) but because they seemed to understand. They seemed to see my heart and what this means to me and, most amazingly, seemed to think that I have something to say worth hearing. I had a little cry because it is amazing, and exhausting, to finally care so much about something. It's amazing when what you want so badly to communicate gets through and for it to help someone.
I already know that I am going to miss this place. Its not unusual for me to get very attached to churches. Whether its the ladies that I learned how to set up the church with in Barton or the group I chose a new Vicar with, there are all these memories, all these things that changed me. One of the ladies asked me today if I would come back here one day to work when I am all fully trained. I laughed and said I'd love to but lets see what God has planned for me first. Still, the future aside, its strange to be in a place where you can feel yourself changing, when you know, even as you live it, that these moments are going to be something you look back on as important, even life changing.
Fear and trembling isn't really something any of us seek out but sometimes perhaps it is what is needed after all. Next week I'm preaching again and I'll be practising over and over again this summer if nothing else but to get that 'word per minute' quota down! I think I'll always remember this first time, though, and that happy little feeling bubbling up in me even if it was accompanied by much fear and trembling!
P.S if you'd like to read my sermon (second attempt at a sermon in my life time, mind you!) then you can find it here.