Most Sundays, all goes well. Some things are better, some things not perfect. But it all works together for good. If there is a slip-up, most folks don’t even notice. But every so often, there are Sundays like today. There are several slip-ups. Enough that it is obvious even to the most unaware that something did not go as planned.
Today was “one of THOSE days.” If today’s “oopsies” were a result of lack of preparation or not paying attention, this would be another matter. But when we prepare and things don’t go as planned, we have to take that as from the Lord. Right? Not only must I not pitch a fit, lose my temper, or blame my staff, but I must be grateful for how God chose to reveal Himself through the song service today.
Perhaps God was allowing someone in the congregation to know that we are just real people on the platform? Or perhaps it was a reminder to the platform musicians that we have to focus to achieve unity? Or perhaps God was giving me a perfect illustration of “not quite what I expected” for my college song leading class that starts this week? I may never know. But I do know this: God was not surprised by my fumbling today. I was. You were. But our God was not.
Before the service even started, there were several people who were distracted—illness, sick pets, backing into the garage door, just inexplicably running late. Life happens. But I was already sensing a bit of that “off kilter” feeling. Our service opened with “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” It is true that the music ministry is a microcosm of the church. So just like the general sense of running behind in the music ministry, lots of people came in late today. Pastor Mike intended to make an announcement before the prayer. But he changed it to later in the service so more people would hear it! Before the third stanza, I had the congregation read Romans 14:19. I love that third stanza. And that Scripture beautifully supports the idea behind those verses.
After Pastor Mike prayed, I had the congregation read Romans 14:11 before the choir sang “Jesus, At Your Name.” Are you seeing a pattern here? We read verses from Pastor Mike’s sermon before each song this week. Next we read together Romans 14:8 before singing the chorus “For Me to Live Is Christ.” I told the congregation that the song never made sense to me when I sang it in youth group because I paused in the wrong places. I sang it “For me to live/ Is Christ to die/ is gain.” Which makes no sense! When I read the Bible verse, it was clear: “For me to live is Christ/ To die is gain.” I asked the congregation to go back to the first stanza, but some of the instrumental folks didn’t get the message. So there was a fairly obvious, awkward OOPS #1 there.
After that we read Romans 14:9 and sang Dr. Bryson’s “The Holy Church.” I had us start with the chorus to emphasize the resurrection part of the text. Then I went on to stanza one, but the instrumentalists assumed I wanted to repeat the chorus. *(Different instrumentalists from OOPS #1!) So . . . OOPS #2. We got back on track fairly quickly.
But then I really blew it. I was leading the song from memory—a song I have led, oh, probably 10,000 times!—and I held a word longer than it is written in the music. OK. OK. It’s not sin, I know. But it pretty much messed up everybody else! Big OOPS #3.
Pastor Mike got up and reminded the church family about how Tuition Tax Dollars work. We can support a Christian school kid with money we have to give to the government anyway. Pastor Mike made the point that church family helps out church family. So we can all take just 10 minutes to redirect our tax dollars to help our church family and support Christian education.
During the greeting time, as we were singing the chorus of the month, the slides got messed up. So I had to stop the song and direct him back to the first slide. OOPS #4. As I said, it was a weird Sunday for the music ministry. But that really is OK. Really. God is in control even of human “error.”
For the offertory, we sang “Blessed Assurance,” one our church favorites. I told the congregation that for every person who says, “Why does he lead the song so slowly? We need to pick up the tempo,” there is a person who says, “Why do have to sing so fast? I can hardly breathe!” Well, normally I lead that hymn at quite a brisk pace. But today, we were going to sing it at a more leisurely tempo and enjoy the process. The instrumentalists caught on very quickly to what we were doing and gave us a flowing, supportive accompaniment that made singing that song so enjoyable.