An amazing thing happened on Sunday… I broke my ankle.
Okay, I didn’t break my ankle, according to my doctor I sprained it, but none of that really matters. It was not the breaking/spraining that is of interest… it is what happened after.
I left my front door Sunday morning as I always have at 730am. I stepped quickly down the steps as I always did. The only problem on this particular Sunday, my muscle memory thought there was one less step than there actually was. My foot came down on air instead of the landing and then knifed straight down and bent the wrong direction.
I heard all of the sounds you don’t want to hear coming from your foot when something like that happens. And apparently I made enough sounds to cause my wife Anna to come out running. I hopped back inside where I proceeded to wince and test my ankle. One motion I made with my foot hurt terribly, otherwise I thought it could have been worse.
I decided to go to church and see if I could make it work. The pain started to grow as I sat in my office. I decided to text pastor George and see if he would take over most of the service and I would still preach and lead the children’s sermon.
I then proceeded to send a text to Marj our Visitation coordinator to say a prayer for me. The problem with asking Marj to do that is that she does that and her prayers get answered. Within minutes of asking Marj to pray for me, I had Pastor Jon Olson at my side (who Marj had called to tell about my ankle), and Pastor Jon was telling me that I did not look so good and he would preach for me.
And I thought, ok… maybe I’m not doing as well as I thought. But I was still going to do the children’s sermon. And then Mackenzie, our Sunday school helper, sign language teacher, and all around good person walked up to me. Another person might balk at the idea of being asked to do a children sermon 15 minutes before it is about to happen, but all Mackenzie said was, “sure.”
I won’t get into how many people brought me support and prayer and ice packs and potential rides to the emergency room and I won’t get into it because I was mostly worried in those moments leading up to the service, not worried about the long term condition of my ankle, but about how this service would go that had largely been planned by me, but did not now include me.
And then I watched, spell-struck, as one of the most beautiful services I have ever witnessed unfolded in front of me. It was not a perfect service, let’s make that clear. But I don’t find perfection particularly beautiful. What I find beautiful is a group of people coming together, warts and all, to praise the God of all, to openly talk about what we face in this broken world, and then dance our way (broken ankle and all) through our ups and downs together.
It was a spirit filled service and a spirit filled moment. I can’t think of it any other way. It got me dreaming of what we can do with all the gifts we have as a congregation of believers at First Lutheran Community Church. At the drop of the hat we have two amazing pastors (more, actually, when we need them), an incredibly gifted Associate in Ministry (Marj), a talented youth (more, actually, when we need them), and an endless group of people filled with compassion and care and grace.
I wish I didn’t have to sprain my ankle to figure all of this out, but if that’s what it takes I’ll gladly take the trade. We need to figure out more ways to have more Sundays be like this last spirit filled Sunday, preferably ways that don’t require me falling down the stairs.
I invite you to watch the service if you missed it. The camera angle is off a bit because, as I said, things did not go as planned.