Monday, November 26, 2012

Moriah 2: The Sermon I Didn't Preach

The place is Cleveland.  The day is a typical cool Sunday morning in July.  It’s my Sunday to preach.  My toes start to get cold from fear. 

“Stretching helps relieve stress,” I can hear the helpful voice of my drama teacher in the back of my mind.  I start to stretch and hope nobody notices. 

Relax, I tell myself, but the stretching doesn’t help.  My left shoulder blade starts to hurt. 

I paste a smile on my face in case anyone is watching. “Smiling relaxes you as well,” my faithful drama teacher’s instruction echoes in my mind again.  “It also helps you stay awake and always looks good on stage.” 

The last song is almost over.  The nerves have crept into my chest, producing a slight shiver.  My fingers are icy by now.

I looked down at my scribbled notes from Genesis 22:2, “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering…” and in bold, “…upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” I crumple the paper in my hand, pretty sure the people have heard this kind of thing before.  It just seems too simple.

The last song ends.  Kevin goes up to the front to introduce me. 

I walk up, grab the music stand and hear my voice saying, “Let’s pray.”

I bow my head and lead in an opening prayer.

After the prayer I look up, take my notes, stick them in my back pocket and improvised.

“What did you preach?” you might ask.  I’m embarrassed to say it wasn’t good.  I made up something about staying in school, finding God’s blessings and anything else I could think of.  It was a disaster.

“How did the service go this morning? Who preached?” Kevin’s dad asked us in the fellowship hall after the service. 

“George preached, it was…,” Kevin responded.  He didn’t finish his sentence but kind of looked at me with an unsure expression on his face.  My guess is he didn’t want to hurt my feelings, but didn’t want to lie either.

“If George preached it must have been good,” his dad said.  He saved the moment with a grace I didn’t deserve.  In my heart I knew it hadn’t been good.  I had let them down.