Tomorrow morning I will stand in front of two groups of people and tell them to go ahead and eat little wafers and tell them to go ahead and drink grape juice from small cups.
Today I am thinking through what I will say before and after I tell them to go ahead.
I speak two or three a year in front of the whole congregation. It is an excruciating delight. For me. (For them? I hope not so excruciating).
The pain is because I want to be clear. The pain is because I cannot speak as I used to teach speaking, three points, hopefully alliterative, all moving deductively toward a simple conclusion. The pain is because I don’t want to just speak in front of the congregation. I want to help them understand something from the inside, to be able to think and feel differently.
I want to help people emotionally understand the truth of God’s work.
That’s how I described what a care about a few years ago. And when I go back to that statement, written on the last of several photocopied pages, I realize that it still is true.
But it is painful to make myself stop and listen and feel and write, to move from a speech to a story to a moment of conversation between me and 200 or 400 people and God. Because somewhere in the middle of the process of preparation, I have to stop. I have to quit. I have to stop thinking about the story and I have to be inside the story, not as the author, but as a character.
And the word “excruciating” is the perfect word, having in the middle of it the same word as leads to the center of the service tomorrow. Crucifixion. A method of dying. An event which is celebrated tomorrow in the middle of our service, in the middle of my words. Somewhere between this afternoon and tomorrow morning, I have to abandon my life so that I and 700 of my closest friends can remember another excruciating delight.
Thanks for listening, especially if you are one of my friends who tells me, “I’m not religious.” I have to go back to writing now. Tomorrow I’m telling the story of a wedding on either side of the eating and drinking. Weddings and crucifixions. I have some work to do.