My kids and I have visited some at an Episcopal church close to our house. I thought they’d hate it. It’s quite different from the evangelical church they’ve grown up in, where the kids’ wing upstairs has often been jokingly referred to as “Disneyland” by the adults. It’s only kind of a joke.
But my children are introverts, and they love visiting this church. My son loves the quiet. My daughters love the beauty of the sanctuary. For my children who’ve grown up in the evangelical megachurch, these are big differences.
But the biggest difference for me is the rector.
I love the rector at this episcopal church. He’s an introvert’s dream, quoting Winston Churchill and Annie Dillard and obscure short story authors even I’ve never heard of. His sermons are thoughtful and philosophical and altogether different from what I’ve heard in the evangelical church over the past decade.
But it’s more than that. For years, I’ve been attending a church that explicitly values “excellence” in its church services. And this rector stutters. And–lest you get the wrong impression–I don’t mean subtly, if there is such a thing. I mean some Sunday services are like The King’s Speech.
I’ve noticed some patterns over the months we’ve been dropping in. The rector never, ever stutters during the communion service, or the Creed He sometimes stutters during prayers or Gospel readings. But throw in an odd addition to the service, like a Boy Scout commissioning, and it might get ugly.
I wonder what his parishioners think of his stuttering; I wonder if they feel the same way I do. Because I love it. I worry that I’m being melodramatic, but I absolutely love the fact that this messenger of God trips over the words he uses to bring the message.
I feel for this man, and I hope he’s not bothered by his own stuttering. He endeared me to himself forever when he made a joke about being less than graceful with his words one Sunday morning. But he doesn’t lack grace. I would tell him, if I could, how perfect–how holy–it feels to me on a Sunday morning, to hear him stammer out the words of God. We are saints, yes, but we are also jars of clay.
When your leader stutters, there’s no use pretending otherwise.