fan club.

18 Oct
I went home this past weekend to be the *guest preacher* at my home congregation.  It was the first time I preached to the people at East Koshkonong and I was n.e.r.v.o.u.s.  The story among preachers is always both how hard it is and how positive it is to return to the congregation in which you were raised as a preacher.  It’s hard because the people in the congregation have known you from a small child through your awkward teenage phases – and now you’re preaching to them?  On the other side, you could condemn the people of your congregation and they would still tell you how proud they are of you and how you did a great job.  I was not too confident in my message; there was plenty of room for the Holy Spirit to work.  Not my best by any means.  But as I shook hands and received hugs after church, everyone made it sound like I did quite alright.  Wonderful.  A+.  Let me hug you.  Good job.  Everyone was very gracious.
I began my sermon by telling the congregation that I’m fairly certain the last time I stood in that pulpit was as a middle school narrator for the Christmas pageant.  I never would have guessed that I would return fifteen or so years later as a preacher.  The journey that led me to this place is thanks much to the people at East – they asked me to narrate the pageant.  They invited me to play my flute with the senior choir.  The called out in me the gifts they saw for ministry.  Fast forward a decade and a half and here I am.
Above and beyond the congregation at East, I felt completely uplifted and supported by my fan club.  That’s what I’ll call them – a fan club that I’m certain spanned more than three pews full, had they all been sitting together.  It’s the first time I’ve preached within an eight hour drive so this was many of their first opportunities to hear me.  I did the math – supporting me in my guest preaching role were:

1 mom
2 siblings
3 grandparents
4 aunts
4 uncles
5 cousins
2 friends from high school + 3 young boys

I heard from many people as I shook hands and greeted after the service that two physical bodies were missing from my fan club.  “Your Grandma Vera would be so proud of you!” many of the church ladies told me.  The other?  “Your dad would love to hear you preach!  He’d be so very proud of you.”  True story.
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