On the morning of my ordination, I spilled coffee on my Darling Husband's children's sermon.
I woke up half an hour later than I had planned. I hurriedly braided my hair, put on my black collar and a full skirt. I shimmed into my tights and heels. All the while wondering why I had agreed to a pulpit supply engagement when the ordination service I had planned and dreamed of was looming out in the afternoon.
I came downstairs to a kitchen full of breakfasting guests-- my in-laws and two friends up from the City. I had hoped to be a better hostess besides, helping them through a modest breakfast spread. Darling Husband had been awake for awhile, I hoped it was he who had brewed the coffee. He was going through the Sunday morning preacher ritual like usual, being across the yard at one of the church's which he pastors. Probably making sure the communion cups were filled and the Advent blue was making its appearance on the altar and the pulpit.
And he left his sermon and illustration for his children's sermon on the makeshift kitchen table. Every other time it is our breakfast nook, kitchen table, office space, and paper dumping ground. This morning with four extra guests, it was serving central. The piece of real estate I could carve out for my store-bought muffin and my hurried cup of caffeinated joy, was right over his sermon. Which, of course, I spilled coffee on.
The illustration was of a city landmark in our old neighborhood. At the crosswalks crossing busy streets there is a walk sign which also has a sound cue for those who are blind or sight-impaired. While the "do not walk" red hand blares, so does a cue which says "Wait, wait, wait". When the signal changes, there is a "Safe to cross" cue. It seemed a little strange to use such an image of our old urban life while talking to children on the prairie. None of their towns even have a stoplight. Still the command to "wait, wait, wait" could stick in imaginations for an Advent season.
The last few months I have feel as if I have waited often. And not with the kind of patient expectation of Advent devotion. I brought the papers in a rush over the sink to brush off the coffee spill, sponging off the excess. Noticing the time, I went to wake the vehicles from their winter-y naps. Mine, in the garage, started fine. Darling Husband's car, parked behind me in the driveway, was another story. Our overnight guests worked creative stunts to jump his car's dead battery. Eventually, needing both vehicles for reaching our Sunday pulpits, we pushed his car out of the way. There is some kind of joke there, if only I could figure out the punchline which makes it funny. "How many pastors does it take to move a dead car? Three, as long as two are in heels and there are two laypeople to supervise." It's a work in progress and not really funny yet.
Once freed, there was twenty minutes before my first service started, at a church thirty minutes away. One of our friends from the city and seminary, Dear Becca, came along. As I sped down the country roads, I chatted nervously about the expectation of the service that afternoon. About the sermon I had written for this morning. All the while, the late November morning was coloring the sky beautifully. The golden light in the sharp cold got little notice to the rush of being late.
Out of breath we arrived. My friend, the regularly scheduled preacher who took a Sunday off to lend me his pulpit, greeted us after he lead the lighting of the Advent candles. "There is a sermon from Luke on the pulpit. Don't use it." I nodded thumbing to the location of the opening hymn-- "My Lord, what a morning." I giggled all through the first apocalyptic verse.