Today, I am filling in for the pastor at my church. He asked about 16 other clergy if they were free to supply preach July 4 and today, and they weren't. Rather than ask someone who had no knowledge of our church, our pastor asked me and another lay leader if we would be interested.
I don't feel nervous exactly. I've been teaching for many years now, and teaching that long has wiped out any nervousness I used to feel about being in front of people or being in charge. But I'm feeling something, a bit of stress. Part of it comes from the long morning ahead. Part of it comes from knowledge of all the building issues which could go wrong. Part of it comes because I want to do a good job.
I've filled in for a pastor before, at a church I went to years ago. I felt no nervousness then, because I didn't feel like our church always did a good job with the Sunday service, so I knew the the bar was set low. In fact, I suspected that many parishioners would have been just as happy if we could have skipped the service and gone directly to coffee hour--that's a different kind of pressure.
My current church does Sunday service very well, and I don't want to mess that up. We've continued to have two services through the summer, and they're very different. That leads to some stress too.
So, in this month of many vacations, I offer up prayers for those who are filling in for pastors who are taking a well-deserved break. May the experience refresh us all, especially our overworked pastors.