I was not optimistic this morning. Yesterday, after working much of the morning/ afternoon, and then evening on both the sermon and an elder retreat that was going to take place after the worship service, I went to bed feeling a little puny with some virus that had been lingering since Thursday evening. This morning, I woke up with a fever of over 100 and achy. I called my doctor who is also an elder in the church, teammate on a Co-ed soccer team, is married to our pediatrician who is a deacon in the church, and is cousins with the doc who delivered our baby. Gerzain told me to take it easy, go to ER to get a flu swab, and to not put myself in exposure to others. Thinking of Helen Medina, Margaret Sandoval, and Marilyn Penner among others whose immune systems ain't what they used to be, I complied, and didn't go to church and canceled the session meeting.
Miraculously, when I called all the elders they were all okay with getting together the following Saturday afternoon (still need to hear from one).
And so then I made the call for my pinch hitter.
I have several pinch hitters, most of whom are notified well in advance that they will be preaching and helping lead the service of worship. A great joy of living in Santa Fe is there are several retired Presbyterian Ministers, many of whom still got that fire in 'em--that call doesn't go away with age. Also, there are some non-retired presbyterian clergy who are regular participants at WPC and reliable pinch hitters. Not to mention that, by grace, there are a few elders who are willing to preach. One elder, Rose Cavalcante, preached two weeks ago, and when I called her this morning to share the news she said, "Do you need me to preach this morning?" How awesome is that, she has a sermon in her back pocket like every good preacher should (I don't know if I do). I once asked another elder, Gaspar Naranjo, who is preaching two weeks from today, how far in advance I needed to notify him that I needed him to preach. He said, "About five minutes." He's got that back pocket sermon ready; and it helps that he does a sermon every week for 810 am Que Suave. But, no, I didn't go to any of these reliable people.
When I was installed in Feb 2007 as pastor of WPCsf, after an equally hectic Saturday of preparations for Sunday, I ended up loosing my voice. It was croaking on Sat evening, and croaked on Sunday morning. The service was prepared, the sermon ready to be delivered, just needed someone to preach it who could share from my life experience, speak as if this person knew me well. It was then that I identified my best pinch hitter: my wife, Trasie.
She has had experience with public speaking before, and has even preached a few sermons. With grace she delivered the sermon I wrote back in 07, and people came away saying, "Chester you can go back to Georgia, just leave us Trasie" (I think that is a nice comment here in NM?). She was able to deliver it as if it were my voice, but at the same time subtly insert her own theological, psychological, and biblical perspective into the sermon.
And this morning she had a repeat performance from what I heard today (at least she got the same, "we're going to fire Chester and keep you," comments...still trying to figure out what that means). And not only did she have to deliver the sermon, but she was already to coordinate the kids for their parts in the service as it was youth Sunday. And, she had to cover for a lot of things that I had left undone that I was planning to do on Sunday morning. I am so thankful to God for her in my life, and proud at the way she is able to respond to people's needs (in particular mine). Thank you my love.