Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Judges 6:15:

(Gideon) responded, “But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

I've been officiating the Wednesday Morning Prayer service at Trinity the first Wed. of the month, ever since our Priest Associate added a Wed. evening Eucharistic service on the same date. Honestly, it's not "difficult," technically speaking, but it has been a continued refinement of my ease and comfort level with the liturgy. That, coupled with getting my lay preaching license, and actually getting a few "outside gigs" with the Presbyterians, as well as a once-a-quarter preaching stint at Trinity, has really been moving my comfort level with leading worship to new places.

It's made me keenly aware of "what all I lack, liturgically speaking," to the place where it looks like Abe Lincoln studying for the bar exam without a law degree. I've become a BCP rubrics geek. I pour through commentaries. I realize I want the framework of leading worship, and preaching, to be an "automatic thing" in my mind, simply so I can "melt into" the liturgy rather than have to think about it.

You have to realize that I only sporadically had any experience with leading Morning Prayer until a few months ago--prior to this recent regular stint, my "Morning Prayer 101" lesson consisted of a phone conversation with my vicar at the time, who was coming down with some virus, in which I was told, "Just do like I do except say "we" instead of "you" in all the parts where I bless people. You come to Morning Prayer every week--you know it all by heart anyway."

Of course, in my usual blustery way, I was like, "Oh, yeah, sure, boss, I can do it!" but I remember when I got off the phone I thought to myself, "Yeah...but I know all the responses, not the "Priest parts"--and I sort of think I know where he stands and when he faces forward and when he turns sideways...sorta....but I have never really followed the book in quite THAT way...and there are like choices and stuff for the opening sentences, and choices for the prayers...aaaghhh....Oh, well, there will only be a few people there, and they won't throw a rock at me, and I'm sure it will be okay enough...but I would have liked to have practiced this..."

As it turned out, the church didn't burn down, and there were only like five people there, and everyone was incredibly kind to me even if I did make a gaffe or two, and it was all okay, but I knew I was just playing "monkey see, monkey do" to the best of my memory. I knew I physically did the job "well enough," but I sort of felt like an inadequate copy--the "faux vicar," as it were.

It took my mind back to when I was a pathology resident and all I knew how to do was mimic my idol, whom we all called "The Goddess of Pathology." She was everything I knew I could not possibly be. Not only was she a good diagnostician behind the microscope, she was well-dressed, attractive, was married to one of the more successful orthopedic surgeons in town, had a gorgeous house, and three smart, attractive, overachieving children. I only knew when I was behind the microscope, before my own diagnostic skills were fully formed, to just try to "be like her" as much as possible, and maybe I'd feel a little more like her. I even tried to dress a little better in hopes it would rub off.

But after a spell, I realized it didn't work. So I went back to dressing as badly as I always did, and being grateful that, in a hospital, wearing scrubs hide a whole host of intelligence sins (at least wearing scrubs makes it clear you might actually work there), and over time, I did gain knowledge and confidence, and that nebulous collection of things that make you feel "competent" on the job, including my specialty board certification, and that first "post-boards" year of experience that seems to teach all new doctors more than their residencies did.

Fast forward to my "re-start" in getting to do Morning Prayer. I made it really clear to my Priest Associate, that I really wanted to not just "do it," but "be comfortable in it." In my mind, the best way to lead the liturgy is to have it become a part of you--like your own hand or foot--so you don't notice "fitting" or "not fitting" in it, and you neither detract from others' worship experience, nor feel yours is being shorted. She spent a lot of time with me discussing the rubrics, and being comfortable to leave the "choices" in the liturgy to me. I could pick my own opening sentences out of the prayer book, pick the prayers, pick the dismissal, etc., within the choices of the rubrics of the prayer book.

It was feeling better--but it still wasn't "comfortable" yet. I was feeling more comfortable about the liturgy but had not known quite how to "fit in." I think for the most part I was still, to some degree, mimicking "how others do it."

Then I remembered a dream I had from long ago.

When I was very near my graduation from medical school, I had a dream with one of my late mentors in it. In the dream, he had returned to have a beer with me and talk about the next phase of my life--residency. I was kind of angry he complained about my beer choices in the dream, but I'll never forget the main image in it.

He had me put on his long white coat. It was woefully too big.

"That's right," he told me. "You'll never fit my coat. Not that I am bigger or better than you, but you could even take this coat to a seamstress and it still won't fit right--because it's MY coat, not yours."

Then he told me to go get my little short medical student length coat and put it on. It was strangely too short in the sleeves and felt a little tight, even though I knew it was "my" coat.

"See?" he said. "Even your old coat doesn't fit you anymore. You're not even graduated yet, but really, this coat doesn't fit you."

Then he pulled a little on the sleeves and the hem here and there and after a dozen pulls or so it magically seemed to transform into a long white coat--the coat of a "degreed" physician--and everything fit just right. The length was perfect. The sleeves were just right. The fit was not too tight, not too loose.

When I remembered that dream, I went straight to Google. I knew what I needed.

I ordered myself a new alb. One that fits me. One that is "mine" although I'm glad to leave it in the sacristy at church and share it with people. The albs we have in the closet are God only knows how old, and they are a little short in the sleeves and a little not quite right here and there. This one fits perfectly.

Well, it should not surprise you...this Wednesday, I felt the most comfortable as I ever had, leading Morning Prayer.


Good on ya!

your morning prayer is always comfortable..thought you had been doing it for a long time...and your outfit looks "marvelous".....lisa

Thanks! I guess the answer is, "Not as long as it might appear!"

Glad you are more comfortable!

Which one did you get?

Well, let's put it this way. If I hadn't mentioned it, no one would have noticed it. It's basically the plain vanilla with the capuche same as I would be wearing any week as acolyte.

But that's nothing new. I have bought red Ford F-150 pickup trucks continually for 29 years and I consider it a "win" if someone goes, " that the same truck?...or did you get a new one?"



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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