Embarrassment in Church!

Being a substitute church organist can lead to embarrassment, and it certainly has for me.

So far this year, I’ve filled in at several Lutheran, Episcopal and Presbyterian churches. I’ve been a Lutheran all of my life, although I’ve been employed at various times by a Methodist church, two Lutheran churches, a Catholic school and a Baptist school.

Each congregation within a denomination has its own way of doing things. And that can be a problem.

In our church, near the end of the service, we have a closing hymn, followed by a brief dismissal by the pastor or assisting minister.

Another congregation, though, has the dismissal before the final hymn – except for one Sunday when I was the organist.

Oh, they meant to have the dismissal first, but, when it was time for the minister to say something, I started playing the hymn. No one was singing.

Well, it’s not so easy to read the music, play the organ and look around at the same time. When I managed to glance at the preacher, I noticed he was just standing there, facing the congregation with a smile on his face.

So, finally I stopped playing. He immediately had the dismissal, and then I started playing again, this time with the congregation singing.

After the service, I apologized to the pastor. He smiled and said, “Oh, that’s okay. I had all afternoon. I figured you’d stop playing sooner or later!”

Three weeks ago I filled in at an Episcopal church, which I had done several times previously. Typically the senior warden scans the hymns, then e-mails them to me a few days prior to the service. One of the hymns he e-mailed this time was unfamiliar to me.

This particular hymn was number 512 in their hymnal. Well, when it was time to sing that one, just before the sermon, the minister announced for the congregation to stand and sing number 521. I glanced back in the church bulletin; it had 512, not 521.

Panic set in; I didn’t know whether to play what I had been sent, which was also in the bulletin, or whether to play the one announced by the minister.

Guess which I played? Oh, you don’t want to guess? Well, that’s what that entire congregation had to do while I was playing. Not even one person went with what was in the bulletin – except me. Nobody was singing. So, after one verse, I quit playing.

The minister went to the pulpit and, as he was to begin his sermon, in a friendly voice he said, “Sherry, what was that you were playing?” He waited for an answer, so, from the back of the sanctuary where the organ was located, I apologized, saying that I played what was in the bulletin.
I played at the same church again yesterday; yes, they actually invited me back! When I walked in, the senior warden greeted me by telling me there was a mistake in the bulletin with one of the hymns.

This time, we got it straight before the service started!

Thank goodness, having played for hundreds of church services, weddings and funerals, I don't have many embarrassing moments to write about!!!


Margaret Hall said...

I am pleased that you were invited back...and, it not being your fault on the numbers mix-up, then you should not be embarassed..I think it is a great accomplishment to be talented as you are to be able to travel from church to church...
Have a great week, Sherry...

Sandee said...

What Margaret said. I'm impressed that you can play. I've always wanted to do that.

Have a terrific day. :)

MommaD said...

definitely confusing stuff...but there always seems to be a bauble here and there in church services...glad you can roll with the punches!

Syd said...

Good for you Sherry. Great that you are so talented and that you do this.

Sally Ferguson said...

One time, my Mom-in-law was playing for a wedding when her cell phone started ringing. It was in her purse down on the front row. She pretended to wonder who it belonged to, right along with the rest of us!

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