Humans are such creatures of habit. Do something a few times and somehow it becomes the way you do it.
It's kind of like school. The shy kids or the ones that were up to no good sat in the back. Hardly anyone wanted to sit up front by the teacher - she might call on you, so if it were possible, no one sat on the front row.
When I first started taking my son to church, there weren't very many people there. The back rows were always roped off in an effort to make people sit closer. My boy and I always sat in the last row that wasn't roped off. He's not a baby, but a reluctant attendee. I allowed him to bring a book to read, but I wasn't keen on him doing that in front of everyone. At least back there, he could read and not be obvious in his inattention to the service.
And honestly, that's where I felt most comfortable sitting. The ropes have been removed, so sometimes there are people behind us, but as a rule, ZBoy and I still sit toward the back. I am happy to report that the book stays home these days. It was a gradual weaning.
At first, he sat there and read it all the way through the service. Then he started putting it down for the sermon (because really, they're usually pretty great sermons). And the prayers. Eventually he'd bring it but never open it. It sat on the pew in favor of the Hymnal or the Book of Common Prayer.
A couple of weeks ago, we had a Youth Service. It was Z's first time to acolyte and he found it interesting. Today he did it again. And he'll do it again next week. He thinks it's very cool - even if the robe he has to wear is hot. When I was acolyting, the robes were lightweight cotton affairs. Now the fabric is heavier and there are snaps and such to figure out. And even after all this time, I'm still not sure how to tie the belt...
Today was different for both of us though. Today, I sat on the third row back (though still on the right). Today, I was to read the First Lesson and the Psalm.
I got my reading on Tuesday and looked over it, found a few words I wasn't sure of the pronounciation of, went to our church's website and listened to them spoken in the lectionary dictionary. The hardest one was Beer-lahairoi (the region Isaac hailed from). I said it over and over again, and read my lesson several times.
It was a long one. About Rebekah and how she came to be Isaac's wife. The wording was somewhat awkward, as Isaac's servant seemed to like to repeat himself and script out what he's going to say before he says it (I guess we all know people like that, huh?). Before the service, Nancy, the woman who sent the lesson to me asked if I'd figured out how to say Beer-lahairoi yet, so I promptly said it for her - and said it wrong. Gah!
I sat near the front so I wouldn't have much time to think about my reading on the walk from my seat to the podium up front. I wasn't nervous, exactly. Usually when I read though, I'm sitting in a little room with a microphone and someone on the other end of the building talking to me over headsets. Doing this standing up in front of people was different. I got up there, hands shaking a little and started reading.
When I read, I read like I'm telling someone a story. With inflections and pauses and very subtle voice changes. I read the Lesson like that because according to my brief training session, that's how they want it read. The goal is to have people listening to the Lector rather than reading along and never looking up. I saw a lot of faces today.
Afterwards, several people told me that they really enjoyed my reading and as people processed back from communion, I got a few thumbs up. Obviously it went pretty well.
Now that I've done it once, it won't be so scary to do it again. After all, I've already done it. And honestly, I really enjoyed it.
Next week, I may be back in my regular pew, on the right towards the back. And maybe I won't.