Courtney Ball

Pastor Bucky’s Secret Worship Thoughts

Mary, did you know…

Sometimes when Pastor Bucky sits in worship his mind wanders. And in those wanderings he often dwells on ideas that might make the worship service more interesting. These meanderings have led to some truly inspired worship experiences. Other times, the ideas that come to him are more questionable.

For example, every year after Easter, the First United Methodist Church does a special jazz service, led by a local group of retired musicians. Everyone enjoys this fun worship. Pastor Bucky, being the associate pastor, usually gets stuck leading the much more somber Good Friday service, recalling Jesus’s crucifixion.

One popular hymn for Good Friday is a slow, repetitive dirge called “Were You There?” (Here’s a link, in case you’ve never hear it.) Often it brings the older women in the congregation to tears. Still, every time Pastor Bucky hears it, he can’t help but think that the tune, if it were sped up a little, would make a pretty nice jazz number.

One time, in the privacy of his own home, he tried it out, and realized to his satisfaction that when played a little faster with an enthusiastic jazz singer’s voice (his own), “Were You There” was almost impossible not to dance to. He then proceeded to make up a dance to go along with it, featuring jazz hands during “Sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.”

Pastor Bucky had so much fun with this new jazzy dance version of the hymn that he let the excitement of his own creativity carry him beyond good judgment. He made a video of his song and dance and showed it to his lead pastor. “I’m thinking of shaking things up a bit for our Good Friday service! Check this out and tell me what you think.”

“If you want to remain a pastor in this church or any other church, you will never show that video to anyone else again,” was his senior’s response.

(By the way, I’ve seen Pastor Bucky perform this dance, and I know he keeps a copy of the video somewhere for his own enjoyment. If I can ever obtain a copy, rest assured I’ll share it with you. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen, but his lead pastor made the right call.)

As caught up as he can get in his own creativity, there are some ideas that are not even questionable to Pastor Bucky. He knows without a doubt that they would be unacceptable.

He longs to put dry ice in the communion chalice, for instance, but that will never happen. The cherry bars he used one time raised enough eyebrows, and people would probably get hurt. “Still, it would look so cool,” he says.

Pastor Bucky also changes or adds inappropriate lyrics to hymns on occasion. When Christmas time rolls around, Mrs. Higgins always offers to sing “Mary, Did You Know?” as a special music selection. It’s a pretty song that asks Mary, the mother of Jesus, if she knew that her baby boy would grow up to be the Savior. One line in the song is, “Mary, did you know […] when you kissed your little baby, you kissed the face of God?”

Pastor Bucky always, in his mind, changes this verse to: “…when you wiped your baby’s bottom, you wiped the poop of God?” It gives him a chuckle, especially because Mrs. Higgins tends to take herself a little too seriously when singing the hymn.

Another altered lyric that he wishes he could get out of his head is actually one his brother came up with for the hymn “Spirit of the Living God”. The hymn prays, “Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.” In one stanza, it follows with the line, “Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.” Try as he might, Pastor Bucky cannot hear that song without imagining his gleefully crass older brother’s version of the line: “Strip me, spank me…”, you get the idea.

Pastor Bucky wonders if all his parishioners minds drift off as much as his does during worship. Clearly some of them do, especially the ones who fall asleep in the pew. His main hope is that if their thoughts do wander, maybe they’ll come up with a few good ideas of their own.

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Courtney Ball

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