Accidental Anniversary

This is an anniversary for me.  On this date in 1997 I stood in the pulpit for the first time and preached the Word of God.  I will never forget it!  It all happened by accident and no one planned for the circumstances that allowed this unusual occurrence to take place.

The pastor was away on retreat.  A substitute was arranged.  The substitute called me with less than 20 hours’ notice he could not make it . . . and a faithful community expected to celebrate the next day at 5:30.  I made several calls trying to get another replacement.  There were none to be had.  I began to pray!  And, I realized, with some shock, that if there was going to be any gathering of the faithful, I was going to be leading it!!!

I look back on this incident now as nothing but grace.  Then, however, I was filled with terror and uncertainty, doubt and not just a little anger!  But sometimes grace comes to us in unusual packages and we have to take the time to respond and unpack it with care – sometimes over a lifetime.  Such was my first experience with preaching.

And, I remember the date so well because today celebrates the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross.  And, don’t we all have crosses that we are asked to bear?  Or, crosses that are thrust upon us?  Or, crosses that we willingly take up to help relieve another’s burdens?  As disciples, crosses are a part of life and we will never be without them.  Jesus said “Take up your cross and follow me.”  And, that’s what we are all trying to do.  The cross is essential to the journey – and on this day we celebrate that.

What crosses do you carry?  And, what experiences have challenged you to see the grace in the difficult and uncertain times?  Let them unfold – there is more grace to be found.

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