What haunts the dreams of a pastor? What gives a pastor a fitful sleep at night? I’ll come back to that. First I will say that when I was a waiter in Seward, NE at Valentino’s restaurant, I used to have nightmares about work. It would go something like this: I’m the only one working, it is closing time, and suddenly the whole restaurant is full. I have to serve everyone, and cook the food! Stressful!! I would have these every so often. If you think that is strange, now, even as an adult, I have dreams about being back in college, and realizing after several weeks that I have been forgetting to go to one or two of my classes.
Okay, so, now back to the pastor thing. I have similar dreams–nightmares rather–about Sunday morning. In these nightmares which are really just stress dreams, any number of things can happen. In general, the service is a liturgical trainwreck. Either I am standing up there and can’t find my page in the Altar book, and it seems like I am flipping through pages for hours while everyone is waiting; or, I can’t get my vestments on, or I can’t find my vestments, or I can’t find my sermon text, and usually it is when a huge crowd of visitors happens to show up. These dreams seem to go on for hours. I grind my teeth, toss and turn, worrying and anxious about “many things” (after the manner of Martha, perhaps). The one thing I ought to be really worried about is the “one thing needful.” But I am so concerned about things going “just right” in my conduct of the service that I am haunted in my dreams about it going awry. Of course this never happens in real life. Or does it?
Yesterday my dreams became reality. The service was a liturgical trainwreck. Most people would probably say that they didn’t notice anything different, but in my eyes it was. From the very beginning I was a nervous wreck. We were going to process in during the opening hymn, which we haven’t done here much, so I was worried about that. As I’m standing in the back of the church, just as the pre-service music is beginning to come to an end, I realize that I forgot to put my sermon text on the pulpit! I had to run back to my study, grab it, and carry it up with me during the procession–huffing and puffing from being so darn out of shape.
Even before that it was stressful. Our wireless mic is on the fritz, so I spent about 5 minutes trying to get the stupid thing to work in the vestry. I never did get it to work, so I was worried about people being able to hear me on the video feed that is sent out to the nursing homes at 4 p.m. on Sundays. I had forgotten to mark my pages in the Altar Book, so I was flipping around the whole time trying to get to the right pages, and the pages on this Altar Book never, and I mean, NEVER stay down. I have to hold it with my hands all the time. I can’t stand these Altar books because of this very reason. They are TOO BIG! Preaching went okay, and so did the Sacrament. During the offering, I stood up at the altar like a fool for about 20 seconds before I realized that I had to get the offering plates for the ushers, who were standing patiently at the foot of the Chancel waiting. Then, after the Post-Communion Collect I announced to the congregation to remain standing for the closing hymn since we would process out, completely forgetting about the Benediction, which I then said, confusing everyone! It was just nuts. My mind just couldn’t handle it. But we got through it. The Word was preached, the Sacrament was given, and people were fed with Christ. But I take such pains to see to it that the service goes smoothly and when it doesn’t, it just irritates me to no end.
But now it is Monday, and I can relax for a bit. 🙂 I hope my brothers in the Ministry had a more relaxing day than I did.