I believe I have mentioned on the blog before that in our church we don’t have a sermon given by a pastor or priest or whatever every week. Instead, members of the congregation are asked to speak on a given topic, and there are generally three different speakers each week.
That would be “different” as in “not the same three speakers every week” not “different” as in “one has two heads, one has five feet, and the other is French Canadian”*.
Anyway, two weeks ago I was asked to speak this week**. Specifically, I was asked to be the third speaker. I usually refer to the third speaker as the “clean up” speaker. If everybody before you has blathered on too long, then you, as the third speaker, have to shorten your talk. If everybody before you has not blathered enough, then you, as the third speaker, have to lengthen your talk. You have to clean up, as it were, whatever timing mess is left to you.
So today, the first speaker was there but, for reasons unbeknownst to me, declined to give his talk. This meant the second speaker became the first speaker, we sang every possible extra verse of the intermediate hymn in an attempt to fill time, and then I, as the clean up speaker, was faced with 30 minutes left in the meeting. I suppose it is worth noting here that I was assigned to prepare a ten minute talk.
As I stepped up to the microphone I could sense the anticipation in the room.
“I know what you’re thinking,” I said. “You all are thinking we are going to get out of here early today. And the branch president*** is thinking ‘what am I going to say to fill up all the extra time?’ And my husband is thinking, ‘Everybody just sit baaaack and make yourselves comfortable.'”****
The congregation laughed.
I laughed last, however, as I finished up 25 minutes later. Just in time for the closing hymn and the closing prayer. The branch president shook my hand heartily when it was all said and done.
And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt thinks you would have been impressed.
* McH’s people are French Canadian (well, at least on his bio father’s side — on his mother’s side he’s 1/64 Chinese, but that has no bearing here), which means I’m allowed to poke fun at them because I am now French Canadian by marriage. I am also allowed to make fun of the Belgian, because before they were French Canadian, his people were Belgian. But those waffles are pretty good, so I’ll leave them alone.
** My assigned topic was “How serving others can bless our lives”.
*** The branch president is the equivalent of a bishop, but he presides over a smaller congregation (a branch, as opposed to a ward). Both a bishop and a branch president are the equivalent of a minister or pastor or priest or whatever.
**** This is part of the duality that is me (hmm . . . I guess that means I’m kinda like Batman). Anyway, I have fought shyness my entire life, but give me a topic, some time to prepare, and an audience and I can usually go on forever. What’s up with that?