Monday Morning Quarterback

Note: Monday Morning Quarterback is a recurring post that examines personal and pastoral events of Sunday.

5:00. Alarm. Yeah, that’s not happening.

5:30. Awakened by a lack of preparedness and a persistent fear of failure.

5:58. Facebook text from a pastor friend on the east coast:

didn’t know who else to send this to… but this morning’s thought: Dear Parishioner, Sometimes, it seems that I don’t want you to come into my office. And that’s true. But it’s not because I don’t like you or I don’t want to talk to you. It’s because I just farted. TRUTH. You can put that on your blog… but it didn’t come from me. Ha. have a great Sunday.


No worries, Steve VerBuelen of First Presbyterian Church in Stinkytown. Your secret is safe with me.


6:12. Double batch of granola going into the oven.

6:48. Preparing the Lenten Group, which I’ve yet to lead or even attend. Decide for style over substance; PowerPoint it is.

6:55. PowerPoint and this scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Ahh, there’s some substance.

7:37. Granola turned out well.

8:11. Arrive at church, go straight for sanctuary and set up laptop with announcement slides.

8:20. Proceed to Sunday School classroom. College student is presenting today about her trip to Israel and Palestine, and I need to make sure our newly-donated HDTV is ready to receive her computer. She told me yesterday her computer had an HDMI port, so we’re good. I. Got. This.

8:37. Head of Staff proposes a video clip at the end of her sermon. Go to sanctuary laptop, download the video, check the sound, and cue it up (it’s this thing about wolves, and we’ve cued it to begin at some serious howling) Some days it just seems too easy.

8:45. College student arrives with her mom and sister, ready to set up her presentation. I try not to gape as she unsuccessfully pokes the HDMI cable at the side of her computer. No, no, no . . .

8:46. There is no HDMI port, so we’ll have to use the projector. Good thing I have one of those Apple projector adapter things in my office.

8:48. Disassembling projector in the sanctuary to relocate to Sunday School classroom.

8:51. Return to classroom with projector and adapter. It’s already half full. Performance anxiety.

8:52. Adapter doesn’t fit.

8:53. Class now troubleshooting the problem. “Shut it down,” I say. Tell the college student, “You’re the most interesting thing in the room. Let’s go with that.”

9:24. College student’s presentation is soaring to a packed room without the projection system, and I feel like a proper dummy for stressing so much about it.

9:58. Time for worship to start. No acolyte to be seen, so I’m lighting the candle.

10:03. Daughter and her playmate are slow dancing the Prelude.

10:12. Children’s Time. Re-enacting the miracle of the coin in the fish’s mouth by sending kids into the congregation to find the fish I’ve planted on a worshiper. They race back to the chancel with it, and I act shocked to discover–what’s this?!–a coin inside! They marvel.

10:29. Notice the laptop has gone to sleep at the start of sermon. Note: I’ll need to wake it up a minute before the cue for the clip, because I’ll need to enter the password. No problem.

10:38. Cue approaching. Cooly walk to laptop and hit space bar to wake it up. Only, it wasn’t really asleep. Suddenly, the sound of howling wolves fills the sanctuary. Space bar! Space bar! Space bar!

10:39. Stand at the laptop like a post throughout the clip.

10:53. Fight the urge to respond to the Benediction by howling like a wolf.

11:11. Greeting people on the patio after worship. There’s a young man here today with a huge backpack strapped to him and a guitar. Never seen him before. Ask him where he’s coming from and he says, “Here.” Oh, okay. I just thought, you know, because of the backpack . . . hey, have some coffee.”

11:48. Lenten group is happening. Throwing my theological convictions into the gears of the lesson. Baffled looks.

11:56. Re-enacting Monty Python clip is a good, good move.

12:58. Home. Wife is down with a migraine.

1:28. Wife and Daughter enjoying Daughter’s favorite past time: watching Cupcake Wars.

1:33. Making Monday’s lunch for Wife and me: curried chickpea salad.

2:00. Decide to go for a run. Last run felt great, and I’ve got a bright orange running shirt I’m dying to show off, so I’m looking forward to this.

2:12. Run not going well. Every stride a struggle. The shirt looks good though.

2:30. Phone rings as I’m finishing run. It’s Wife. She needs me to get home and take Daughter somewhere. Migraine raging.

3:12. Daughter and I walking to Fat Burger for sodas.

3:17. Good choice at Fat Burger: sparkling water instead of soda. Bad choice at Fat Burger: chicken strips and fries.

3:59. Return home, and Wife’s not well at all. Decide to take Daughter with me to youth group. Daughter is pumped.

4:12. Driving to youth group, Daughter coaching me on what to do with out-of-control Jr. High kids. Her strategies mostly involve stomping the floor and turning off the lights.

4:48. Pictionary. Daughter squealing with delight at all the laughing going on, though she has no idea what the game is about.

5:22. We’re a small group today (two students and three adults), so Daughter is participating in the discussion of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Prompt: “what tempts you?” Daughter shouts, “Sugar!”

5:24. Daughter frantically telling the group about a time when she spoon fed herself brown sugar while I was outside and how she was afraid she would get caught but happy that she never did. When I point out to her that now I know because she’s just told me, she hangs her head. Parent fail.

5:41. Improv game with students about resisting temptation. Why do these scenarios all involve Gossip Girl?

6:12. Running Daughter home before high school youth group. Wife’s head is a bit better, so I can leave with a clear conscience.

7:10. After nobody brought food to last week’s youth group, this week has two bags of chips, two dips, and a plate of cookies.

7:12. Student harassing me to connect the Chromecast so he can play a video from his phone. Nope.

7:15. Student not giving up on the Chromecast. Throwing things at me.

7:18. Student finally gives up and plays video on his phone’s screen. It’s the #McConnneling thing. Yeah, I should have let him Chromecast that.

7:27. Soul Pancake discussion prompt: How Do You Keep Yourself in Check? One student’s answer: I don’t.

7:46. Intern has a new youth group game: Pool Noodle Hockey.

8:22. Intern teaching about the papacy by convening a mock conclave to elect a youth group Pope. “I’m going to get struck by lightning, aren’t I?”

8:35. Pope elected on the first ballot. White smoke rising from the youth room.

8:38. Newly elected Pope takes the name, “Ellen.”

8:55. Suggest that new Pope’s first official act should be to lead us in evening prayer. She’s unfazed. That’s why she’s the Pope.

9:23. Return home to a dark and quiet house. The Migraine won. Tomorrow is another day.