When the prayers from our mouths are lacking

Yesterday morning before worship, I felt terrible. Sinuses clogged. Ear hurting. A bit of a low-grade fever. (Don’t worry. I was Purrel-ed up to my elbows before I presided over communion).

After our children’s message in which I (uncharateristically) called each kid by name, one of the kids came up and handed me a piece of paper from her mom with four of the kids’ names on it. The reason for this piece of paper is to let me know who will be taking up the offering. It has become our “tradition” that the children of the church take up the offering. It makes the whole thing more of the joyful response it is supposed to be rather than the begrudging obligation it can become. When we only had a few kids, whoever was in worship would take up the offering. Now that we have more and more children, our acolyte scheduler began adding two more kids to the schedule to be the money collectors so that everyone would get a turn.

We’ve only recently started this, and usually I get the piece of paper before worship begins. But it got sent up a little late this time. In my sinus/allergy/drug fogged brain, I totally forgot about the relatively new plan. I looked at the list of four kids and thought, “Did I not call these kids by the right names, and is this a cheat sheet to help me out the next time?” I looked out in the congregation at the kids on the list. I know all the kids. I know all their names. Was I THAT out of it during the children’s message?

Mind you, part of these thoughts are going through my head as I’m leading the prayers of the people. I don’t like to read prayers (unless they are someone else’s that I really like), so I never have anything written down. I fear the prayer came off as somewhat less than heartfelt.

It took me halfway through the prayer hymn to realize what the names were really all about . Then I started to pray again—to be able to get through the sermon without to many fumbles and foibles.

All of this is to say, when we gather for worship and things don’t go the way they are supposed to (and at our church, they rarely do), God shows up and listens to the prayers we have in our hearts, even if the ones out of our mouths are far less than eloquent and rather disjointed.

Thanks be to God.

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