Last week it was my turn to be worship leader at church. There are several people who kindly volunteer to do this each week on a rotating schedule and they were running low on kindly volunteers so they asked me if I would be willing. The purpose of the worship leader is to sort of hang out up front and introduce the next thing that's going to happen in church. Kind of like an emcee of sorts. Only instead of being up there the whole entire time, your just there until it gets to the part where the preacher preaches the message, then you hand the whole deal over to him and go sit down with the rest of the flock.
So I said OK! I may have even said it in capital letters with an exclamation point because I was very excited at the prospect of having a captive audience who would be morally obligated to sit there and listen to me ramble for fear that if they tried to get away the mighty hand of God might come crashing down and shoo them back into their seats.
Now may be a good place to interject that although I am TOTALLY into the whole public speaking thing and have no qualms about standing up there in front of everyone (my leader at Dale Carnegie informed me that I have no comfort zone)- I have the speach abilities of a stroke victim. I get so excited that PEOPLE, REAL PEOPLE are going to have to sit there and listen to ME that the thesaurus in my head goes into overload. My vocabulary is way too large and every word I want to say evades me, but I know that there IS a certain word that I'm looking for and my brain races around ("Lycos, go FETCH!") while my poor, poor mouth tries to keep up.
But this past week I thought maybe I could outsmart myself. As a worship leader you have three basic prayers: the Invocation (opening prayer), the Offeratory Prayer (where you pray over the offering) and sometimes the Benediction (the closing prayer.) Now, at our church, the worship leader is free to pray these in any way they choose, so long as it's appropriate. So I, being sneaky, and knowing I need to outsmart my stupidness, wrote out a short Invocation, Offeratory, and Benediction.
I knew that I would be able to cheat and read the Invocation and Benediction prayers, but the one that sort of worried me was the Offeratory prayer. Cause for THAT one, you're standing there in front of the ushers, not behind the podium, and there's no place to hide a little piece of paper with a prayer on it. So I spent the morning repeating and rehearsing my offeratory prayer.
It was exactly like the beginning of the Godfather where the big dude, Luca Brasi, is sitting outside the Corleone house during the wedding reception and he's there muttering to himself the same sentence over and over: "Don Corleone, I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your house on this day of your daughter's wedding..." He practices for ever and ever and finally goes in to see the Don and.... screws it up. ("Don Corleone, I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your daughter's wedding on the day of.... your daughter's wedding....") But the Don is very understanding and doesn't mind.
That's pretty much how my experience went. I muttered my little two sentence prayer over and over and over all morning long. Then I got up there and.... had no idea what I was going to say. I just went blank. Nothing in my head but the sound of crickets chirping. So I just made it up, stammering as I went. God seemed pretty ok with it and the congregation didn't really mind either. Or at least they were polite enough not to stare at me when church was over.