Note: Monday Morning Quarterback is a weekly post reviewing Sunday, the busiest, most stressful, most gratifying day in the week of a pastor/parent/spouse/citizen.
Song of the day:
7:00. Alarm goes off. Yes, 7:00. After daughter’s Halloween party on Saturday and staying up past midnight to finish editing the long overdue movie about our summer vacation, I slept in an hour on Sunday. So defrock me.
7:41. Dressing in black and grey today. I need my colorful socks for a conference I’m attending during the week, for which I’ve been boasting to friends that my socks will “mean business.”
7:44. Breakfast is the bottom half of a leftover Panera bagel from yesterday morning’s gathering of youth ministry volunteers. Chewy.
8:07. Stopping at the grocery store on the way to church. After nearly two months of fall Sundays, I’m finally leading the high school Sunday school class. Yesterday I solicited breakfast requests from several of them by text message, so I’m confidently picking up some muffins and orange juice, impressed with my ability to engage young people in substantive decision making.
8:30. Breakfast spread is ready: mini muffins, mini danish, bananas, and OJ. Snap a photo of it and text to students. This is what they pay me for.
8:38. Setting up the laptop in the sanctuary to show this week’s “Blessings” slide show featuring Erin Dunigan’s pictures when the first student response shakes my phone: “I’ll be there. Nom.”
8:40. Follow up response from same student. “On second thought, I have too much homework.” Another log on the homework bonfire.
8:42. Second student replies to breakfast text. “I’m getting kidnapped this morning so I can’t be there. My mom told you about it.” Rule mom out as kidnapping suspect. I’m gonna miss that kid.
9:02. Standing outside Sunday school classroom with other teachers, waiting for students to arrive. Crickets. (The step son of one of the teachers had recommended the muffins. He’s home sleeping.)
9:03. Text from wife: “we just got up, so we’re not coming to church today.” Reply 😦 I can’t even get my wife to show up.
9:05. Swapping stories with other teachers of high school pranks our “friends” pulled off in high school. The town is abuzz after students from the rival high school painted up our school’s parking lot and littered it with nails.
9:11. First high school student arrives. Cue the victory music.
9:16. Begin Bible study with three adults and one high school student. Trying not to direct every question to the student.
9:32. Bible study is joined by a fourth adult, the leader of the Family Focus Sunday school class. They got one less participant than the high school class.
9:41. Discussion of humility features anecdotes about kidnapped Mexican politicians. High school student looking bewildered.
10:06. Congratulating the congregation on it’s robust support of last week’s Walk for The Hungry. “You guys are great. Uh . . . good job?”
10:18. Children’s Time. CE Director is line-by-line teaching the children a benediction song. Halfway through the second line, with the whole congregation listening intently, CE Director’s infant son lets out an epic rasberry from the first row. It’s at least 15 seconds in length. CE Director losing it.
10:23. Reading today’s Scripture lesson, which is only two verses long. Using a Scottish accent, just to keep it interesting.
11:09. Greeting a young couple on the patio after worship, working hard on that balance between sincere interest and desperation. “Please like us!”
11:32. Congregational meeting to present a preliminary budget, share stewardship goals, and elect officers. And to eat crunchy Asian salad. Seconding the motion for more of the salad (see what I did there?).
11:37. Church member with whom I had a phone conversation earlier in the week follows up with a typed letter, handing it to me between bites of salad before leaving for another engagement. Fold the letter and put it in my pocket, wondering if it will end up in the laundry.
12:02. Talking with a church member who read my ECO blog post earlier in the week and who worshiped last weekend at one of the angry Presbyterian churches. “They say ‘savior’ a lot,” he observes. “That’s a word we hardly use here ever.” Respond by narrating a brief history of American evangelicalism, then stop, deciding once again that I care less about explaining the differences between evangelicalism and our church than I do about doing church really, really well. Then wonder if that decision is worth anything.
12:15. Return home to help put the house back together after yesterday’s party (our condo is small enough that having company requires stuffing the living room into the garage, like kids cleaning their room by hiding clothes and toys under their bed.)
12:17. Changing my clothes and remembering to take the church member’s letter out of my slacks pocket and place it in the pocket of my shorts. Again wondering if it will find the laundry.
12:18. Texting youth group students, trolling for snack volunteers for this afternoon’s youth groups. “First one to reply wins.”
12:19. We have a winner. This is what they pay me for.
12:20. Wife offers untouched pie from yesterday’s party to the youth groups. Seriously? Where were you three minutes ago?
12:52. Having regained access to the garage, cleaning cat’s litter box and assessing my experiment at using an old Diaper Champ as a dirty kitty litter bin. It works great, until you lift a week’s worth of litter out of the bin and rip the bag open, spilling Hell’s belly all over the floor.
2:30. Wife napping. Trying to convince Daughter to do a grocery store run with me. Nope.
2:36. Finalizing vacation movie instead and uploading to Vimeo.
2:41. Daughter notices bag by the door, a bag filled with items for the Goodwill, items including some of Daughter’s things she hasn’t played with in forever. Uh oh. “These are my faaaavorite!” Daughter wails. Trying to argue that if they really were her favorite she would have noticed them missing before she spied them in the bag is a loser’s errand.
2:44. Wife intercedes in GoodwillGate from upstairs, ruling that Daughter can keep the items. Daughter wins, but is playing the hurt to the hilt, burying her face in the carpet and moaning.
2:46. Turning on a movie. Not only has Daughter saved her excess toys from making other children happy, now she’s enjoying a victory lap of The Smurfs.
3:43. Getting ready to leave for youth groups, making wife some post-nap coffee. She reminds me, “Don’t forget the pie.” Don’t forget the pie? C’mon, man. I got this.
3:57. On my way out the door to youth groups, grab the bag with Daughter’s ransomed toys, looking back over my shoulder to see if she noticed. She didn’t. I’m a monster, I know.
4:01. Halfway to the church before I realize I forgot the pie.
4:42. Snap a junior high student’s three game Connect Four winning streak. Debut my victory dance to blank stares.
4:57. Leading junior high students in writing acrostic poems with the word E-V-I-L. Winner: Every Venomous Intention Loses. Student next to me can’t get over the fact that he can use both “elephant” and “virgin” in the same composition.
5:38. Playing Grog. A student has brought his costume for this: black robe and silver skeleton mask. Notice that the boys scream like frightened toddlers when chased. The girls seem bored. Constructing an anthropological theory in my head about adolescent boys’ delight in danger.
5:57. Winning snack volunteer has brought chips and a dip she claims is her grandmother’s secret recipe. Swallow the claim with gusto, along with most of the dip.
6:01. Music Director debuting a new youth program tonight, which I’ve dubbed “The Youth Music Thing.” Good initial turnout. I’ve got a pie at home, though, so . . .
6:23. Return to Youth Music Thing with pie to discover that, in my absence, students have convinced the Music Director–sound unheard,–that their first project should be a music video of The Aquabats’ “Hey Homies!” They’re over the moon when I walk in because they know I have this on my iPod.
6:25. Student demonstrates the “360 Hug” by lifting me up and spinning me around. After, he collapses on a couch in pain and yells, “Why are you so fat?!” Use the last piece of pizza to stifle my tears.
7:01. Youth Intern arrives with a Grande Coffee for me. Cry on his shoulder a little bit.
7:24. German foreign exchange student stymies the high school youth group when he shares that the thing that made him happy this week was the realization that he’s smarter than everybody else in his math class. Awkward laughter. American youth really don’t know what to do with this kind of hubris.
8:12. Youth Intern leading a very thoughtful conversation on the problem of evil in which all of the students are eagerly and respectfully contributing. I’m tracing the coffee stain on the side of my cup with a pen.
8:39. Playing Grog. Again. There should be a seminary class on the proper technique for jumping out from behind a sanctuary door to scare the bejeesus out of a student. Also, I should teach that class.
8:53. Somebody keeps crop dusting the front of the sanctuary during the game. Invent a joke: “Eww, somebody Grogged.” Nothin’.
9:02. There are two slices of pie left and they’re coming home with me. They will compliment my fat pizza nicely.
9:30. First order of business upon returning home is to grab the torrent of tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead. Second order of business is to pull up the archive of this afternoon’s Broncos’ game. Business getting done.
10:11. Daughter comes downstairs. “Daddy, Mommy said to come down and have you get me a snack.” Pick her up and hold her for a bit before getting her some chips and warm milk, which I tell her my dad used to make for me when I couldn’t sleep (at least once he did). She’s delirious to be part of a family tradition.
10:14. Daughter explaining that she watched a video with Mommy that scared her. It was a Bible video, she says, about David, who got sent to the scary forest where there was lots of lava. Probably Apocryphal.
10:17. Suggest that I take Daughter to her bed. “No Daddy, I can go by myself.” Great. Follow her to the stairs. “No, Daddy, you don’t need to come with me.” Watch her take two steps up the stairs. “Daddy, don’t follow me. Really. Don’t.” She reaches the top of the stairs and sprints to Mommy and Daddy’s bed, where she announces to her sleeping mother, “Daddy made me warm milk like Grandpa used to make for him!” So much for a sleep aid.
11:09. Broncos’ game finished. Putting off Monday Morning Quarterback til the morning. Head to bed with the church member’s letter still in my pocket.