We had a plan. Pastor prayed, the plan began...and just after I turned the video camera on it went off, battery dead. I plugged the camera in and let it "charge" for a couple hours last night. Too bad I never checked to see if the little red light was flashing that means the camera was charging. It turns out I plugged it into the half of my UPS (uninterrupted power supply) that does not work.
So what did I miss? Well, next Sunday (May 10) is Pastor David's 60th birthday. We could not let an occasion like this go by without much fanfare, but the problem was how to make it a surprise. The staff and church leadership always does something for Pastor's birthday, we mention it to the congregation, and on "big ones" (like 50 and 60), we do a big church party. It's not like Pastor expects a birthday party, but I'm thinking since he's turning 60, since we always do something for him, and since his birthday is on a Sunday, he has to have it in the back of his mind that something is going to happen. That's why I suggested we do something today, a week before Pastor's birthday. He wouldn't expect anything today, right?
We began talking it over as a staff and came up with the idea of combining his party with the church picnic. The only problem with that was the fact that the picnic was scheduled at the end of the month. If we did a party then, it would seem like a "guilt party" because we forgot his real birthday. That's when our events coordinator, Pat, came to the rescue. She told Pastor the date we had scheduled for the picnic would not work for her and asked if we could move it to today, May 3rd. The picnic was moved and party planning began in earnest.
So "the plan", as NOT captured on video, went like this. A letter went out to the congregation and asked them to stop by the youth building when they got to church this morning. Those that brought cards/presents dropped them off in the youth building and everybody grabbed a party hat and a party blower. These were smuggled into the sanctuary and hidden until the appointed time. We always have an opening song and then Pastor opens the service in prayer. As he began to pray today, people quietly and "prayerfully" put on their party hats and got out the party blowers. When Pastor said "amen", he may have been startled by the noise as the party blowers sounded and he opened his eyes to a party-hat-clad church. Immediately a video started showing pictures of Pastor over the years and a couple happy-birthday-videos from friends. After the video, we told Pastor that the picnic was also a party for him. Somehow we moved back into worship, had a good service and a good message, and then had the picnic/party afterwards.
I didn't mention that in the midst of all the planning the weather did not cooperate this week. LOTS of rain which makes for muddy church grounds. On Thursday, we decided the chances were GREAT that we would have to move the picnic into the sanctuary, so rather than wait and try to take down all the chairs and set up 18 tables on the fly, we set up the sanctuary for the picnic. When people arrived today, they were asked where they wanted to sit, "table or chairs". This made it a little bit interesting for the ushers as they took up the offering, but it was different and it was fun.
So we had GREAT Texas BBQ for lunch, sang Happy Birthday to Pastor, took ten additional minutes to light all 60 candles on his cake, showered him with gifts and gift cards and had a great time. Lots of volunteers helped clean up so everybody was home before too late this afternoon. What a great day!
Happy Birthday a week early Pastor David. We love you!
FYI - The picture at the beginning of this post is from Pastor's 55th birthday party, not today.