"For my first sermon, I will need volunteers."
I felt like a magician, beckoning a brave soul from the crowd. My inaugural message would be participatory to illustrate my style from the beginning. One lady reluctantly agreed, sharing a previous experience when another pastor had nailed her answer to the cross of theological scrutiny.
"My goal," I replied, "is to be the only object of public humiliation during a message." A soft laughter circled the table, easing the tension.
Perhaps I don't take myself seriously enough, but I am admittedly clumsy as a Christian. To fake a strut when I habitually limp smacks of hypocrisy. The era of impeccable leaders is fading; now is the moment for handicapped voices to lead, laugh, and encourage communities to limp along together.
God spoke this message when I opened the door to the church my first morning. I was told the lock was tricky; I was given the code to the alarm. I was expected to make myself at home. After a few minutes of manipulating the bolt, I rushed to the keypad and entered the thirteen digit number (the number of digits has been changed to protect the identify of the real password). The code was rejected. I entered it again, the beeps increasing with my blood pressure. I erred again. Thirty seconds passed and the halls of the church sounded the rapture. God laughs like a fire siren.
A minute later the security provider called. "Your alarm just went off." My ears were still ringing; I asked her to repeat. "Your alarm went off."
"Is that what that was?" I asked. "Sorry. I'm the new pastor. This is my first day. And I'll probably set it off again."
"No problem, reverend. Welcome to the ministry."