With any luck, within an hour after I get this column written and e-mailed to the newspapers, I’ll be headed out of town for a few days. It’s time, in more ways than one.
It’s the time of year again when my three brothers and I all try to pack up and head off for a few days at our maternal grandparents’ old homeplace at Robert Lee, Texas.
But it’s time in other ways, too, I think. Case in point: last Sunday and the deep feeling of loss that seemed to permeate my life during worship.
First of all, I lost my sermon. I don’t mean that it slipped my mind; I mean that my mind slipped, and I lost it. My sermon, I mean.
I usually sing with our praise team. Under my nearby Bible and my copy of the “order of worship” usually sits a folder and, nestled inside, lies my sermon.
Not so Sunday. I looked down and the folder wasn’t there. I figured it was in the fellowship hall and I’d set it down during Sunday School. Anyway, I slipped out and into my study. I figured that, rather than scurrying around through the sanctuary and fellowship hall and inevitably distracting folks, I’d just print off another copy.
It should have been easy. But the desktop computer in my study doesn’t like the updated version of the word processing program on my laptop computer. Things were not going well.
By the way, when I later confessed to the congregation that I’d temporarily lost my sermon, I don’t think the loss struck them as particularly tragic.
But on to another loss.
I’m begging the computer to print, and at that moment, my wife rushes into the study to let me know it was time for communion--and the communion bread was lost. Or at least missing. Not in the tray.
I knew where it was. It was in a sack near my desk. We’d made a new batch the day before. (We’ve given up on the stuff that tastes like the box it comes in. We make our own.) I’d set it by my desk, making the mental note that I will never allow myself to make again: “Don’t forget to get this to the communion table.”
Anyway, the lost was found. We celebrated communion. And I celebrated when, on my way to beg for the copy, I found my original sermon lying on top of the keyboard upstairs.
Things worked out well. Until I confessed, the congregation never knew they should have been praying for my sermon to remain lost. And it didn’t. And both they and I avoided any kind of crisis of faith.
But so far today I’ve lost a commentary, a set of keys, and a pair of shoes, which are now on my feet so I’ll know where to find them unless . .. .
Time for some time away, I think. I’ll wander back before Sunday. By then maybe I’ll have lost a little stress. And I hope to have with me a new sermon that I’ll try hard not to lose.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org