Friday, March 7, 2014

Odd anecdote (2)

Unfortunately, I discovered early on how easily a preacher can lead people astray.  I was student pastor at John Bunyan Baptist Church in Oxford, where frequently I had to lead the whole act of worship.

After the opening hymn there was a prayer of praise and confession.  It was the habit of this church(and I remember it being fairly common practice then) for these prayers to close with the whole congregation reciting the Lord's Prayer.  The pastor gave the lead to the familiar words.

On this occasion with a high degree of confidence and loud voice I led my people:
Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil ....

At this point I sensed the prayer was shorter than normal and the congregation was dividing - a small number were following me (though hesitantly), another group was saying something about 'Give us today our daily bread' and the majority were stabbing at words without direction. If it had been set to music there were the makings of a round as different phrases sounded over against each other.  However, it wasn't and in some panic I reached for the end:  'For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.'  The congregation avoided eye contact with me for several minutes, and I with them.

I know the Lord's Prayer can be said meaningfully together when led properly   Ever since I have taken care to keep set words like these clearly in front of me. Another learning experience!

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