Last weekend our young professionals group at church went to do the worship service at Heartland, a nursing home/older adult active living center/whatever you want to call it, in Donelson. I've always enjoyed getting to be at places like this because the elderly people are always so gracious and appreciative.
I often will get a kick out of at least one or two of them. Normally, you get very direct feedback about your volume levels and such ("I can't hear him!" "What'd he say?!" "What number did he say?")
But this time, I had an entirely new experience. I was working with my interns on developing lessons, and I had all three of us pick parables to study through. I did my sermon about not worrying, where Jesus points us to the birds and the flowers as examples, then goes on to tell us what we should be doing, keeping our lamps lit, waiting for the master to return.
About 45 seconds into my sermon, some random chirping sounds started up behind me. My grandparents have a bird clock that does this every hour on the hour with a different type of bird noise. I assumed it was their clock ringing.
But the chirping kept going, and continued to increase in volume. At Rose Bud, when I first arrived we did not have speakers running to the nursery, so women were fairly resistant to taking their babies out because they couldn't get anything out of being at church if they were in the nursery. I got used to ignoring screaming infants, while trying to appear as if it wasn't bothering me and moving on with my lesson. I put this skill in to practice at Heartland, pretending not to notice the chirping, and charging ahead with my lesson.
I kept wondering why someone wouldn't turn off that stupid clock.
But when I finished my sermon, I turned around to see if I could stop the clock myself when I saw that directly behind me was a large birdcage with several inhabitants. I had been too busy greeting and organizing when I arrived to notice it.
Purely coincidentally, I had preached on the "Consider the birds" passage without knowing I had a good visual illustration right behind me. It was one of the hardest sermons I've ever had to preach; purely because the birds were so loud I could barely hear myself thinking.
That was a new experience for me.