Mar 012009
 

I was preaching today at my placement church and it was one of those times when you really wish it was someone else in your place. Everything started off well enough but one young lad had been brought back in from junior church by his mum a little earlier. That was fine until about 5 minutes into the sermon he let out a loud and very obvious yawn. It was all I could do to keep a straight face especially with the ripple of laughter that went round immediately after. I suspect he knew what was coming because this sermon is probably one of the longer ones I’ve done. To be fair, I was doing a bit of editing on the fly, giving only a couple of examples of scripture where I had three or four and so on. Nonetheless, it was longer than usual.

It was also fairly warm in the church and one elderly lady fainted and, rightly so, there was a bit of concern about her. But what to do? Keep going or stop and make sure everything was fine. Stuart, my supervisor, was signalling to just keep going and I did. But it was obvious that people’s attention had been lost and I expect that my ‘punchline’ ended up falling a bit flat. I suppose that that is when we pray that it is not our words that are heard, but what God wants to communicate that is heard.

Ah well, all part of the learning process.

If anyone wants to read the sermon (and I cannot take responsibility for the consequences of doing so), then it’s now in the downloads section. The sermon is the first (barring an introduction) of a series on the Apostles’ Creed. The theme was “The God I believe in”. Because it’s a follow-on, there may be bits that seem to come from nowhere but I’ve tried to edit these to make better sense in isolation.

  4 Responses to “Carry on regardless”

  1. That was quite a service ! I’ve had a baby yawn loudly at the end of a sermon, thankfully with only a paragraph to go and was able to make light of it. I’ve also had people take unwell and generally had to carry on while others attended to the unfortunate member.  It isn’t a pleasant experience. I always feel like you did that I should stop and see how the person is, but that would often draw attention to someone who wouldn’t really appreciate it and maybe it would detract from their dignity.
    I did have to cancel a service once. I had a member of the choir collapse in full view of the congregation. What shocked me was that there were actually some who thought I should have carried on !!!
    A tough day at the office !

  2. What a nightmare. I can see if few people have seen the person faint the person preaching carrying on – preserving the dignity of the ill individual and all that.
    Having said that, about 10 years ago my Mum and I had given blood before the service (we were feeling a little drained!). My Mum felt unwell and as we were helping her out into the fresh air she fainted. Almost at the same time, another member of the congregation fainted (she, too, had been donating blood earlier). Her Mum was in the choir, saw it all, and went running upstairs to see how her daughter was.
    Due to this, I doubt there was anyone on the congregation that wasn’t aware of the ill people. The minister on that occasion carried on regardless; not even a pause for breath!!!
    I must admit, though, it had been a very boring service and everyone was glad of the distraction!!!
    Personally, I think the minister should at least ensure anyone who takes  ill is fairly okay. At least pause and ensure the individual is being looked after.

  3. In my current charge I have had people taking unwell during the service and have gone up the aisle during a hymn to check on them, or, if they’ve left the building, to have a quick word with whoever is on door duty to see that they are ok.
    Thankfully most services are quite dull in terms of such emergencies !! (Hopefully not dull in other ways !)

  4. Alas, there is no simple answer to this one. A couple of months ago I had two people in back to back services keel over… must have been a great series of sermons… The first week it was someone right at the back of the church and I kept going. The next week it happened right at the front, a wheelchair had to be brought through, one of our resident docs was on hand, etc. And in that case the only thing to do was to stop and wait.

    Then as the service progressed I got the thumbs up from the doorway so I could let people know everything was okay.

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