Things do not always go smoothly, or as planned.

Worship committees plan simple, but special, changes to focus our attention on Advent, and then the people who have been working on the planning get exposed to COVID or, worse, come down with it and can’t be there in person on Sunday.

Or the people who were going to have a part to play and words to read get stage fright [which is actually understandable, to anyone who has had to get up and read scripture in church, and experienced the sudden sense of how impossible that is].

Or sermons get videotaped and uploaded to the cloud and then can’t be downloaded to the sanctuary. [What??] Or can be heard loud and clear in the sanctuary, but for some reason are silent on the video we want to load up to YouTube. [How does this make sense??]

Or after weeks of advance warning, and having it on the calendar, and everything, it still comes as a sudden lurching surprise to the person who’d agreed to give that “minute for mission” on the special offering being collected on Christmas Eve that today is their day. [Oh … uh-oh.]

So people step up, step in, work around, troubleshoot, exercise patience, collaborate, “problem-solve,” speak from the heart …

Things do not always go smoothly, as planned, but worship goes on, nevertheless.

The etymology of “improvise” links it to the verb “provide.” It’s formed from the prefix Im-, meaning “not,” and the Latin root provisus, the past participle of providere, “to foresee, provide.” So, “unforeseen,” “un-provided.” Which links it in a roundabout way to “providence.”

Perhaps improvisation works because, while we ourselves may not foresee it all, as providence would have it, we have more resources lying ready to hand than we even know … when things suddenly are not going smoothly, as planned (by us).

red line embellished

Image: “Nandina domestica RJB” by A. Barra, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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