Yesterday morning I preached on Psalm 5. I was asked to. I was allowed to call it preaching. It was expected and the church was filled with people wishing me well. Two people came up to me before the service to tell me that they had been praying for me. In the vestry before hand the vicar prayed over me, laying his hands on me. But none of that gave me any assurance that I was supposed to be there.
Also, there were problems with the technology before the service, I had accidentally left the house with all the keys causing a real problem for my husband getting to the church and the music group had a couple of hiccups before hand too. This further undermined my assurance that I was supposed to be doing this.
So what did give me assurance? Well it was an exquisite moment whilst we were singing the second song. I suddenly became aware of a presence just by my right shoulder and I looked to see who it was but there was no-one there. Then I heard a voice say “I am with you Janet” and I felt a band of comfort flow around me. Fortunately there was another song to sing because I was pretty much overwhelmed by this and tears started streaming down my face.
As I stood at the front of the church, facing my church family, I felt drained, the way you feel after a very long walk. It was such a blessing – I didn’t feel as if I had to perform, I just had to let God do the work. I was nervous, sure, but I also felt peace. I was walking along a path with Jesus by my side and it felt right.
I don’t think I did particularly well; on the other hand, Jesus was completely brilliant .
And as for the hiccups before the service? As that great philosopher Douglas Adams once wrote: “Hey this is terrific. It means we really must be on to something if they’re trying to kill us!”