Monday, June 6, 2011

Plain clothes clergy: prone to wander

So there I was, sitting in the back row, having arrived a couple of minutes late for the service, but in plenty of time for the readings, saying the responses in all the right places. I stood up for the gospel. I said, "Praise to You, Lord Christ." I sat down for the sermon.

The preacher said, "Wasn't that the most poignant gospel?" And I thought, "What? What gospel? What did it say?" I never learned. I only looked it up now. And I wondered how many times have I assumed everyone had been paying attention to every reading and not bothered to refresh their memories--if indeed there were any memories there to begin with.

I worry about talking down to people, that by repeating the story I'm suggesting they're stupid. Today I'm thinking I'm just helping them out.

I have no idea what I was thinking about during the gospel, but it wasn't the gospel, that's for sure. I was perhaps still distracted by the person leading the Psalm who intoned, "Let the varnish like smoke." Then he went back to correct himself and said it again! I loved that. Perhaps he was distracted by the wax in the very next line. I'm glad the celebrant was on top of things, anyway!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always like hearing the story again at the start of the sermon - since no two summaries ever sound the same, getting the preacher's version of the reading gives me a good sense of what he or she thought was important about it before the sermon proper begins.

Things I do not like when I am listening to a sermon, should you be curious, include:

when the preacher starts out be asserting that "we" all do something that I'm pretty sure we *don't* all do

when the preacher manages voice levels and hand gestures so scrupulously that he or she gives the impression of acting a part instead of speaking a reflection

when the preacher skips the lectionary to talk about some lesson that we have not just heard or may not ever have heard