Every year around this time, my church (the First Parish Church of Stow & Acton, Unitarian Universalist) canvasses its members and friends, asking folks to pledge money for the upcoming fiscal year. In the weeks leading up to Canvass Sunday (March 13), we typically have a few members get up in the pulpit and share some thoughts about what it means to be part of the congregation.
This year, I was asked to be one of those sharing their thoughts.
I had a mixture of feelings about this. On the one hand, I felt rather honored to be asked to speak, and even more honored when I found out that I was the first person so asked this year. On the other hand, I'd have to come up with something to say; then I'd have to get up in front of the entire congregation and actually say it! Still, I figured that this was something I could do, and so I agreed.
Well, today was the day. At first, I was thinking that I'd script the whole thing, but then I kept finding reasons not to apply butt to chair and actually do the writing. After a couple of abortive attempts, I finally decided that I'd just come up with a basic outline and talk from that. So I noted a few points that I wanted to make. Mostly, I figured that I'd talk about my journey through the congregation over the last few years, and how one activity led to another. I also decided to mention how the congregation had provided me a safe place to try some new things (like singing in the choir), and how it helped me as a "recovering perfectionist;" after all, nothing ever goes exactly right in church (or in life, for that matter), but things always seem to turn out pretty well.
Surprise, surprise: things didn't go exactly right, but they did turn out pretty good. The first thing-that-went-wrong actually had gone wrong a day or two earlier, when the orders of service were printed up; my name somehow was misspelled "Edwin" Schweppe. (The real spelling is, of course, Edmund.) Then, it turned out that the volume control on the pulpit microphone was turned waaaay down, so almost nobody could hear me unless I crouched over the microphone. Fortunately, someone who knew the location of the controls for the amplifier was able to fix that little problem. Despite these minor glitches, I think my little bit of sharing went well. Certainly, a number of folks came up to me afterwards, thanking and congratulating me.
One bit of synchronicity that I hadn't planned on: the theme for the day's service was the Wizard of Oz, seen as an allegory on the journey through life. I didn't know that beforehand, but my little bit of pulpit-speaking fit right in with the overall theme of schings (so to speak).