Have you ever made a major blunder that affected a large number of people, and then struggled with guilt about your mistake afterward?
Last Sunday, I made a big error while playing organ for my local branch church.
While the Reader read a verse to the second hymn, I didn’t pay attention to what he was saying while I was making sound selections on the keyboard. I had my hymnal open to number 58, and was ready to begin as soon as he finished.
When he repeated “Number 85” at the end of the verse, I launched into number 58.
After my introduction, I started playing the first verse and sang right along, happy and satisfied that all was well.
But all was not well.
After about a verse, I notice many people leafing through the pages of their hymnal, like they were lost. And my wife, who I could see from where I sat, was finding hearty humor in something, but I didn’t know what. I was also wondering why few worshippers were singing…but some people were singing. So, I was confused!
With a short prayer of “God, what do I need to know?” I quickly glanced at my post-it with the hymn numbers written down (I cannot see the hymn number rack from where I sit), and suddenly realized my error.
A bit petrified, I reacted by lifting my hands off the keyboard. The music stopped. A few voices lingered (they had figured out that I was playing 58 and were singing the words from memory). I voiced out loud to the congregation of 60 or so congregants, “Oh, I’m sorry!” I flipped my pages to hymn 85, gave them a short intro, and played the right song.
People smiled, and laughed, jumped in with me, and all was well. It was no big deal.
After the church service was finished, many of us had a good hearty laugh over the mix-up. It was quite funny, really.
But later, I rejoiced in realizing that not a single complaint was lodged by anyone about my mess-up. There were no critical frowns, no harsh judgments, and no demeaning remarks. Everyone quickly forgave my mistake, let it go, and proceeded with life. And that’s the way it should always be.
But it hasn’t always been that way! I’ve known times in the past when I’ve made a mistake, not necessarily in church, and someone held it against me for a long time. This ought not to be, but unfortunately has happened at times.
Jesus taught us to forgive and have mercy.
I suppose one reason I felt instant forgiveness from my congregation is because I’m inclined to forgive quickly myself. I don’t believe in holding grudges. They are deadly to health and peace of mind. And why harbor an ill-will that only penalizes self? That’s not cool or wise… But also, the congregation was obviously full of love to breeze right on through the glitch without making anything of it.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy,” Jesus taught.
I felt a huge amount of mercy last Sunday. And I’m not taking it for granted. It was the grace of God at work in that membership, and I am grateful to have been a part of it.