So it was my turn to lead our alternative evening worship, again. Well no, it was my service partner’s turn to lead (and mine to be a helper), but she was away and nobody else was free to lead it, so I offered. At the time I offered I had a v.free week. This was before my shifts got changed around, and with one thing and another, I suddenly had a v.busy week. When Mr B was looking in my diary last Wednesday and pointed out that I was leading the service on Sunday, it came as a surprise as I didn’t have any time left to plan it!
Given that this week is bike week, our town held a Biggest Bike Ride, and I’ve just finished reading a book about The Man Who Cycled Around the World, I decided to have a bike theme. I’d seen a bike blessing service via Richard a few weeks ago and was inspired, but logistics meant that it wouldn’t be possible to carry out a replica. So I took a different angle – I realised that I connect to God more on a bike than I do in most other places. So I decided to speak about these feelings, through a reflection, and encourage people to think about where they feel they best connect to God. Then people were asked to write this, or something connected to the bike theme, down on a peice of material and tie it onto a bike tyre. Aside from a introductory bike presentation and song, I didn’t really have the time to sort out anything else for the service. So I stuck our candle lighting ‘tradition’ and the Lord’s prayer at the end, and hoped it would be ok.
Everything went wrong. The people with the keys to the church turned up 20 minutes later than expected, giving me 20 minutes less to set up the laptop, projector, music system, chairs, candles, etc. I’d kindly borrowed a friend’s laptop, as Mr B’s is elsewhere and mine can’t cope with ‘high pressure’ situations. This friend was setting up the laptop and projector for me, when it decided it didn’t want to turn on. It would come on, get half way through loading up, and then decide it couldn’t do it, and try again. Not what you want 10 minutes before you need it. Thankfully some bright spark fixed it. Then, at the time the service was supposed to be starting, I realised I didn’t have my copy of the order of service, which I’d typed up and printed before coming out. And then left it on the printer. Doh. I could remember what happens when in the service. The only problem was the reflection I’d written was on that paper, and I couldn’t remember it word for word. I didn’t really have any choice – I just did a short talky bit during which I summarised the reflection. Put that together with the fact that I’d prepared the presentation in Open Office and my friend’s computer only had Microsoft Office, which decided it didn’t like some of the photos and slide timings, then I wasn’t in the most positive frame of mind.
Anyway. I scraped around the problems, and it was kind of ok in the end. The silence during the candle lighting turned out to be surprisingly deep. I’d put it in to add a bit more length the service, but it worked really well. Everyone seemed to be so deeply envolved in the silence, that I didn’t want to interupt it with the Lord’s Prayer. I left it a few more minutes before quietly announcing it, and the well known prayer was said quietly throughout the circle, without a leader or particular version being used, which was nice.
Whilst clearing up I was feeling a bit low about the service – I hadn’t had enough time to prepare, it felt like everything had gone wrong and that it was all a bit too fluffy and vague. Ok, so the silence was deep but that could have been because people were glad that I wasn’t wittering on anymore! But then a friend came up and told me how much it had touched her. She’d been recently talking about how our services should have more space in them, rather than being too busy, and she said she could completely relate to the whole bike thing. I thanked her, and immediately felt better about it. I know it’s a cliche, but the fact that it touched one person made all the last minute stress worthwhile. And next time I’ll try to be more organised…