This week held an unexpected pleasure and an unintended accident. Last Monday morning, I learned that one of my bi-vocational pastor friends had quickly turned ill during his commute to work. Quite speedily, Lisa made contact with his wife and offered our assistance. I considered driving to find him and getting him somewhere more pleasant to endure the symptoms. Of course, we prayed for his safety and healing.
Later that evening, we learned that our assistance was needed differently. Their local church has a Tuesday night worship service, and due to the pastor’s sudden illness, it was clear that he’d need a couple of days to recover. He planned accordingly, and I was blessed with the invitation to preach in his place.
I know, this doesn’t sound too unique. But what you don’t know is that there were at least a dozen other ministers who could have had been asked. Not to mention, one of the capable and servant-hearted preachers within that congregation could have filled in. So this was a privilege that I did not take for granted.
Instead, I counted it an unexpected pleasure. This is not an ordinary midweek service for this local congregation. Their heart for outreach has led them into a weekly ministry effort, whereby God is using this church to feed hundreds of families. So on Tuesday evenings, their fellowship hall becomes a food pantry staffed with willing workers. The expectation is known that attendance for this worship service is a prerequisite for receiving help.
I have been a guest minister at this church several times, but I had never spoken for this growing outreach ministry. Beforehand, I was informed that the majority of my audience would be obviously unchurched. This excited me as I began to pray and mentally prepare. I even asked a handful of other ministers to cover this opportunity in prayer.
You see, even though I preach most Sundays of the month, this was different. Most of my Sunday congregations do not hold as many unchurched individuals that need a crystal clear witness of the Gospel. I was amped up to preach a Christmas themed evangelistic sermon to sow the seed of salvation. Sure enough, from my vantage point in the pulpit, as many as three-fourths of the congregation were not from that church and were the unchurched I had been covering in prayer.
This ministry opportunity was one of the greatest Christmas gifts you could ever give a Pentecostal preacher.
Then it happened. An unintended accident took place.
For the first time ever, I had to send an apology note to the pastor I had preached for on the previous night. Early in my Christmas story sermon, my active hands knocked over a large bottle of anointing oil. To make my embarrassing moment worse, the incident was recorded on Facebook live. I wrote: “I must confess. I’m quite embarrassed. That large oily spot in the carpet, to the right of your pulpit, is due to my zeal and talking with my hands last night. I take full ownership of it; place my name on it. And when it comes time to clean it, send me the bill.”
Though many things are common in Protestant church services, this accident seems like one of those uniquely Pentecostal preaching problems. My friend, the host church pastor, was gracious and counted my unintentional anointing of the sanctuary carpet as “no problem.”
What’s the funniest or strangest accident you’ve ever seen a preacher do in church? Come on and share it for Christmas sake. I have a few others I could share, but I’d need to change the pronouns to protect the guilty and innocent. But since I went first, it’s your turn now.