I am preaching at my church on Sunday. All three services. And, I’m freaking out a tad.
I’ve spoken and shared but never formally preached at our morning services, so this will be a new experience. But, I’m not freaking out about the sermon itself. I’m actually pretty excited about that. I’m preaching on the Transfiguration of Jesus, and also plan to share how God has been at work transforming me.
No, what has me worried is that in the morning we have a Children’s Corner before the sermon. You know, the time when the little kids come up front in all their adorableness… and then give the pastor fits as he tries to share some simple truth with them in a way they will understand. Usually with some cool visual.
I’ve seen it go well, but I’ve also seen polished, well spoken preachers get completely befuddled as the kids lose attention, start pushing each other, or go off on a tangent about their doggie. I remember one memorable time in my dad’s church when little Heidi first pulled up her dress to show off her new polka dot underpants, and then announced that mommy was having another baby. This was big news as the mom in question had not yet let anyone know. That happened more than 30 years ago, and I can still picture it in great detail, all the way down to her frilly little dress and my dad’s rather shocked expression – at both of Heidi's revelations!
Will I spend the next 30 years remembering my own ‘polka dot’ incident?!
I have friends who love talking with precious young children and would dread having to preach. Others would rather sing a solo in front of a crowd than teach Sunday School to a group of their peers. Still others would willingly spend all day in the church kitchen as long as they don’t have to pray aloud. We are all different, and all have different gifts. One glance around the sanctuary tells us that!
Today I am also reminded we all have different fears. It’s tempting to dismiss the fears of someone else if it’s not something I fear. I’ve received some decidedly unsympathetic responses to my small meltdown about Children’s Corner! It’s a good reminder that we’re all grappling with different things. I may not get panicky at the thought of praying out loud, but this 5-minutes with 4 and 5 year olds has my palms sweating.
All of this makes me amazed once again at the variety around us – and in us! It points me back to our incredible and infinite God. In each of us are little glimpses of His vast creativity. As believers we can celebrate the fact that God has given each of us different gifts with which to give Him honor and glory. None of us can fully reflect Him, but we are all called to be a part of the Body of Christ. Together, we can show the world a more complete picture of what it means to follow Jesus.
And, by recognizing others have different fears and struggles, we can help support each other as we take risks. Stretching ourselves feels much less scary when we’ve got friends ‘praying us on’! Having others empathize – and even join in laughing with us, at the sometimes out-of-control stuff of ministry can make even frightening things a little less intimidating. I may never feel completely comfortable talking to young kids, but with encouragement from others, maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to face those little cherubs!
In the meantime, anyone want to come and lead a Children’s Corner?