Here are the words:
extemporaneous, ministerial, claudication,
recalcitrant and embarkation.
Here is the story.
She was a contumacious and recalcitrant child - always in trouble, stubborn as a mule and flagrantly disrespectful to authority of any kind. This was a huge problem for me, because at the time I was pastoring a small church in northern Maine while completing my ministerial education at the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham.
It was hard to maintain any spiritual authority over the congregation when my daughter was the obstreperously bad girl of the town. This problem had been simmering for a while, and seemed headed toward a full boil at any moment.
It ultimately came to a head one Sunday evening in March as I was delivering an extemporaneous talk on the problems of parenting. I had very little need for any additional research on the matter, I was living my message day after day.
It was a good Pentecostal service, lots of singing, plenty of testimonies, and lots more singing. Unfortunately, our worship leader was out sick that night and I made the mistake of deciding that I would just fill in for him and not have to bother anyone else for talking his place.
But I hadn't planned on dear old sister Gladys leading not one, but three of her victory marches - and not only around the inside perimeter of the church, by out the front doors and around the church - twice!
When I finally got the congregation back in and settled down a bit, my claudification had worked itself into an all-out painfest. I was limping badly from that old football injury and the knee surgery that followed. Sometimes just standing still for a while would make it calm down, but there was no chance for that tonight, as now I had to deliver my sermon. The show must go on.
I began with a story about my father, who before moving to the East Coast, had worked for a time at the San Francisco Port of Embarkation loading Army supplies off the trains and onto ships for delivery to our troops in the Pacific.
Not more than a few minutes into the story, my daughter - who had probably heard the story more times than I could count, dropped her hymnal - or perhaps two or three of them - onto the hardwood floor and stood up.
I stopped. There was complete silence. Every eye turned to her, and then to me. This was a test. We stood unmoving for what seemed an eternity. Then she turned and walked out of the church, letting the doors into the vestibule slam behind her.
What could I do? I continued my talk. Perhaps it was shorter than I intended, and maybe a bit incoherent toward the end. But I gave the benediction, performed my pastoral duties at the door, and went home alone.