Late in the afternoon the parson pointed his vehicle toward his home. He left the banks of the Mississippi where Granddaughter Number Two had completed at the Blues and BBQ Gymnastics Invitational. There was a smugness about the parson's demeanor. His ten year old granddaughter had finished fourth in overall among a field of predominately fourteen year old competitors. The parson was convinced it was a genetic thing.
Imagine the pleasantness the parson experienced in his psyche. Imagine the feeling that nothing was to detract from his elation as he rode the began the 400 mile trip home. He turned on Prairie Home Companion and listened to Garrison Keillor's tales of Lake Woebegon. Everything was wonderful. The sermon had been written. The computer programming for the multi-media was ready. All that remained was for the parson to get home in time for a good night's sleep.
The cell phone rang. The parson's pianist was calling. She wasn't feeling well. She wasn't going to be able to be at church the next morning. The parson's granddaughter had just exceeded all expectations. She was proving her ability, establishing through her athletic ability she was a descendant of the parson. There was no problem. The parson began to hum the hymns he'd slip into the multi-media program to substitute for the pianist.
Sunday morning the parson arrived at church. When the time came to express at the beginning of worship joys and concerns, the parson modestly slipped in that his granddaughter was the recipient of his genetic gift. The parson was on top of the world. The parson was ready to preach the sermon about “Remember Your Baptism.” The parson was as ready as a granddaughter about to leap up onto the uneven bars.
It was during the first hymn the problem began. The video presentation of the screen, with the words and background music to the hymn suddenly encountered audio challenges. The music would play loudly for a moment and then fade into nothingness. It befell the parson to sing without benefit of accompaniment the words of the song loud enough for the congregants to follow.
During the Prayer of Confession the parson's lapel mike began cutting in and out. One moment his voice was blasting out over the congregation; the next moment it was silent and the parson had to strain to project his voice, which was fine until the mike cut back in to now amplify the parson's almost shouting voice.
At one point, the parson headed back to the media room in the midst of the service to show the young know—it-all's how to correct the situation. The parson's correction lasted for seven minutes and thirty-two seconds.
But the parson stumbled on, like a young gymnasts who just stutter-stepped at the most important transition of the floor routine.
The sermon was delivered as thought it was a normal service. And at this point it was a normal service. But then the last hymn appeared on the screen. The hymn appeared, but the accompanying music did not. And yet, the congregation kept singing.
The parson, following the service, stood a the door to the sanctuary. After he'd greeted everyone who had such comforting things to say about the comedy of errors, he walked back into the sanctuary. A member of the church suddenly reached out and hugged him, tightly.
“This was the most meaningful service I've ever encountered,” she sobbed to the parson.