Pastors who have been leading worship for awhile (and some who haven't) often have really great stories to tell about events that happen while leading a congregation. Children who perch inside of pulpits, women who interrupt a sermon for an announcement, various outbursts, quick-thinking ushers, seething parishioners. OK, maybe some of these stories aren't all that "great" but often they make for good conversation, even if we must be well-removed from a current situation.
Until yesterday I had few of these stories to share. There were a couple of cute-kid in the children's sermon stories that I could pull out if I needed, but for the most part my interesting worship experience was limited to second-hand knowledge, or things that had happened while I was sitting in the pew rather than presiding at the table.
I bowed my head to soak in the prayers at noon and we weren't halfway through (I knew, because I'd written them, even though I wasn't speaking them) when I heard a twitter arise from the other congregants. I was a little irritated. I mean, it's Ash Wednesday afterall, a little respect? But when I turned to greet people with the peace, I myself became a bit flustered. Flying around the sanctuary was what I first thought to be a bird. I was somehow ok with that. But when someone called out that it was not a bird, but a bat, I became all a-twitter.
I consider it a gift of grace from God that I was still able to preside with some level of decorum, considering that there was a bat swooping about the sanctuary.