"Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way; though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand" (Psalm 37:23-24). I could take that verse quite literally yesterday at Rural Lutheran as I assisted with the liturgy. It was one of those days of brain cramps and literal missteps.
Part of the misstep issue is due to my height, or should I say lack thereof? I had to have my alb specially made because no one keeps my size (short, but big enough to go around me) on hand. So, the alb has not yet arrived and I am using one I borrowed from the seminary--the shortest one I could find. It still isn't short enough and I have to tuck it and hike it up...well you get the idea. It didn't stay hiked up enough yesterday though. I was carrying the full offering plates (which meant I had two full hands and couldn't grab the the alb to lift it as I ascended the stairs to the altar). I stepped on the bottom of the alb with one foot, then the other, but finally made it to my place. PHEW!! That's over with...but not so fast.
Next, a bit later, when it was my turn to lead in prayer, I stepped up, but there was no step where I stepped and I about landed headlong on the altar. But thankfully, Rural Pastor was watching and prevented a further accident.
Those were the physical missteps, but now come the brain cramps besides! At this church they intinct at communion. I know this. I've assisted in previous weeks and communed there since teaching parish began. When Rural Pastor communed me, I promptly ate the bread, forgetting to keep it for intinction. I was so embarrassed when he gave me the cup to intinct. All I could say was that I forgot and he said it was ok and gave me the cup to drink from.
But it gets worse! I have assisted at several different churches for a number of years. I don't know how many times I've said, "Go in peace. Serve the Lord!" I said "Go in peace..." and then went blank. I was going mentally through a rolladex of possible endings "Share the good news!" "Feed the poor." "Remember the poor." You get the idea. Rural Pastor leaned over and said, "Serve the Lord."
This was a humbling experience. Sometimes we know something so well that we don't think about what we're doing or saying. At times we're forced to slow down, like I was yesterday. I am very blessed to have Rural Pastor as my teaching parish mentor. He is so easy going and patient. He just laughed afterwards and said the same thing has happened to him at times. So, I'm grateful for God's grace and Rural Pastor's as well. And I'm glad I didn't fall literally flat on my face.