High Anxiety

I had a “liturgy anxiety” dream the other night. I think most of us have similar dreams depending upon what we do – meeting deadlines, public speaking, whatever. I get them very rarely these days but I’m always amused at what the subconscious conjures up.

Usually such dreams – even now – take place at the first parish I served, Old St. Paul’s in Baltimore. This makes sense since everything back then was so new to me as I eased into my priestly ministry. These dreams used to almost always revolve around preparing for the service. Usually I’m late getting to church (which has actually never happened to me – yet) and I’m trying to get my vestments on. The organ has cranked up the intro to the processional hymn and I can’t find my alb or my shoes.

This week my dream involved the death of a parishioner – fortunately it wasn’t clear who it was. But as the service started, someone handed me the old 1928 Prayer Book and for the life of me I couldn’t locate the burial rite. I was flipping through pages and pages and just couldn’t find what I needed. Ugh. Everyone was staring at me and I was only put out of my misery by waking up.

My favorite liturgy anxiety dream of all time falls under the sermon anxiety subcategory. Usually such dreams go like this: I step into the pulpit and suddenly realize the text of my sermon is still in my office. I either start to speak yet can’t remember a single word of what I was going to say. Or I leave the pulpit to sprint back to my office while forgetting the way and getting lost in the process.

The best one? I get into the pulpit and am relieved to see my text sitting right where it should be. Unfortunately it’s written in black ink on black paper.


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