September 17, 2006


Breathe In, Breathe Out, Let It Go...

It's another boys' weekend at the house. My wife is away on the annual women's retreat. The monster saw this as the perfect opportunity to try to make a reappearance.

Several months ago, the teenage girl who watched children in the nursery at church resigned. The church board decided to save some money and not hire someone to replace her. "We can take turns volunteering in the nursery," they said.

They all said it, but few did it.

I wasn't looking forward to a Sunday of trying to keep my rambunctious sons well-behaved in their pews while trying to lead morning worship at the same time. The last time I tried this, it was a disaster. Most church members were understanding, but a few actually said to me, "your children are an embarrassment." With these memories and fears in my heart and mind, I went to bed Saturday night; and the monster was knocking.

During the night, I had a dream. All the church members were gathered at church, seated in folding chairs in a circle. Not knowing about this in advance, I was brought in to face a room full of complaints. (They won't come to church for Bible study, I thought, but they'll come to complain.) All the complaints were about me.

I woke up with a start. It was 5:00 a.m. I turned on the light on the nightstand and read some Thich Nhat Hanh to calm myself down. It'll be O.K., I said to myself. Love. Understanding. Compassion.... I hope someone out there is saying a prayer for me today!

I got up, had a cup of green tea. I prepared breakfast for me and my sons. Then the phone rang: "Good morning, Danny! This is your regional minister. I'm on my way to one of the churches in the region, and I'm driving by your church on my way, thinking about you as you worship this morning. Danny, I'm praying for you and your congregation as I'm driving by, that you have a really wonderful worship service this morning; I pray that God gives you a bold word; may it be one of those services where, when everybody leaves, people say, 'Surely the presence of the Lord was in this place.'"

Would you think less of me if I told you this call brought tears to my eyes? Maybe it's enough to say that suddenly, I felt empowered and lifted up. I knew God was with me, so no matter what happened, it would be O.K.

And it was.

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