So I’ve felt a call to ministry – I knew I would be good at many aspects of the job, and had a real strong sense God wants me to be there. That doesn’t automatically make me feel like I can do those “pastoral” things that you see ministers doing up front every week – not to mention the multitude of background work I KNEW they were doing!
I wondered what might make me feel prepared – I have been a regular church goer most of my life, I’m very familiar with services, and in non-religious times in front of a crowd, I’m in my element and can do what needs to be done. The week before my Worship Class started, I noticed I had an assignment to do the prayers in my teaching congregation – which is my church of membership, Augustana Lutheran Church in West Saint Paul. I spoke with the pastors about it, and they were not only supportive, but excited for me to have the experience. I couldn’t help but feel nervous – terrified – at the thought of standing behind the altar, possible in an alb, praying for the church and people of God!!
The more I spoke with the minister who was preaching that day, the more she sensed it might be best to take it down a notch for me – having me stand behind the pulpit with a regular microphone instead of headset, and just wearing dress clothes. I was relieved, I must say, but a part of me felt a twinge of sadness. What was up with that?
I figured it out during worship class – our professors were adamant we get not only “book learnin'” when it came to how to run a worship, but practical experience to see what it feels like to perform the gestures of a pastor in front of people. There was a serious case of the sillies, especially at first, but once it past, it almost felt normal to lead a group in worship – dare I say, I might be comfortable with the robe, the hand gestures only appropriate in that one setting, and a crowd of people looking to me for spiritual guidance?!?!
The final day of Worship Class, the class was broken into groups to do a part of the Three-Day Feast – our group did the Easter Vigil. It’s much longer and more involved, especially if you read all TWELVE readings that the ELW has, but we also got to play with fire – one of my favorite things!
Our group was amazing – talented musicians, dramatists, readers, and of course, fire-makers. I got to sing the proclamation, read a story from Exodus with the visual of water (Parting and unparting of the Red Sea symbolism) help act out another story from Isaiah, and even read the Easter Sermon of John Chrysostom during the sermon.
It felt great to be a part of a group that was so passionate about Worship and how to make it new and engaging for others. It was also good to see that hey, I can do this too!
So when it came time for me to pray on Father’s day Sunday, I felt an amazing sense of calm. It helped that the class had given us a prayer writing formula, and that Pastor Megan gave me an amazing amount of tips and examples, but all in all, it felt right to be praying with the congregation. So far I’ve not been told it was terrible, which is an ego boost – but I think what I have is just one more stone in place on the path that God is laying for my life in ministry – and it feels good!