“Will you deliver the sermon?” he asks me.
One Sunday a year, the pastor teaches Sunday School
and asks parishioners to lead the worship service
in his stead.
Ha! Me? Preach a sermon?
I preach to my kids all the time,
mostly in the form of
“Do as I say, not as I do.”
A potential theme for a Sunday message, for sure,
but would it play well to the gray-haired majority of
this small congregation?
I think not.
It doesn’t even play well with my kids.
I hate public speaking!
And I’m none too endowed in the reverence department, either.
No way! I say to myself.
“Sure!” I say to the pastor.
On the given day, I rise to the podium.
(“It’s called a pulpit, dear” an angel whispers encouragingly.
“Shows just how qualified you are to stand behind it,”
scoffs the dude with the pointed tail.)
I look out over the sea of blue perms, bald pates, a few mullets…
and I gulp.
A voice I don’t recognize delivers anecdotes
mixed with pious postulations;
a splash of bible verse, a dash of poignant quotes
and a twist of lame joke.
Stirred, not shaken.
At one point, I tell a story about my young daughter
and I use the word “mom” a couple of times in succession.
From the rear of the sanctuary, a toddler responds.
“From the mouths of babes,” I say.
Soon enough (or not soon enough, some may think)
the service ends.
Polite parishioners approach and tell me how well I did.
Truth be told, I thought it went pretty well myself.
A diminutive elderly woman tugs on my sleeve.
I bow slightly so I can hear her comment.
“You gave a very nice sermon,” she says, patting my arm.
“Thank you!” I beam.
“Of course, I couldn’t hear a word of it.”
She turns and slowly totters away
toward the cookie-laden tables in the fellowship hall.
At first I’m dismayed that she would complement
without having heard my sterling performance.
(“Performance?” the angel arches an eyebrow.)
But then, I think, maybe she’s on to something.
Without being put upon by someone else’s message,
she is free to rest in a pew on a Sunday morning,
surrounded by congenial peers
(“… and some noisy rugrats,” the horned heckler interjects),
and worship in her own choice of words.
Amen to that, I say.
Amen, says the angel.
Whatever, says the sulphurous cynic.
“Can we go home now?” asks my daughter.
Thus endeth my preaching career.
NaPoWriMo challenge, Day 23: write a poem based on sound.