I was asked to deliver the invocation at a City of Moore Chamber of Commerce event last Friday evening.
When we moved to Moore in 1951 it was a very small town. I don't really know how many people lived there. I think I remember being told there were about 1,100 people in 1951. In 1960 the population must have been around 6,000 because there was a slogan that was something like "6,000 in 60" I think. Now the population is more than 50,000 and Oklahoma City surrounds the place with many thousands more.
At any rate I told the president of the chamber that there were about as many people at the event as lived in Moore when my family moved there. That was an exaggeration on my part but not really all that much.
I think there were maybe 300 or more people there but I didn't count them so I could easily be off. Whatever it was though it was the largest group of people I've stood before in a long while.
When we arrived at the door there was a registration table and we signed in and received a numbered card and that number was what we used for the silent auction and the live auction.
I didn't really understand about the auctions. This was a fund raising event for the chamber. They use the funds for all sorts of good causes although I suppose that is open to plenty of disagreement as are most things today.
One project the chamber helped with was a Veterans' Memorial which is a beautiful place and much appreciated by nearly everyone. Anyway there are always more uses for money than there is money and this annual event is how the money is raised.
The president, Mr. Hunter, who in real life is also president of the Moore Norman Technology Center, recognized my name courtesy of my name tag not far from the registration table. He said he was really glad to meet me because he had to introduce me and having now seen me in person made that job much easier. Not to mention the fact that it also meant I was there and introducible.
We used to call the Technology Center the Vo-Tech but sometime back it changed to more accurately reflect what it actually is. There are two campuses now. The original is still located between Moore and Norman but the new one is out west of Moore and not so very far from our homes (both old and new).
The silent auction items were placed on tables and there was a sign up sheet by each one. At the top of the sheet was the retail value of the item and then below that were lines where you wrote in your number and your bid. Judy bid on a Guess purse and a Christmas pie plate with matching spatula. I really did not find anything I wanted or needed.
Then in this large hall all the tables were set up. Various companies had sponsored the tables which all had room for 8 people. There were many tables. I didn't understand at first how to find ours but Judy finally pointed out the sponsor names on the centerpieces.
The salads and desserts were already there. The main course was served buffet style in another area. The food was good.
After most everyone had finished eating Mr. Hunter went to the platform where the fellow was playing the guitar for our enjoyment. He had already collected me and I climbed on the platform with him. The guitar player stopped and Mr. Hunter took the microphone and began the festivities. It did not take him long to introduce me.
I don't remember exactly what I prayed. I didn't write anything down either before or afterwards.
I think it was about like this:
Our Father, we pause briefly to acknowledge and honor you as the creator and sustainer of life. We are amazed at your magnificent generosity and thankful for all your gifts. We ask your guidance and sustenance. I pray all this in Jesus' name.No one booed or threw stuff at me at least.
I wasn't nervous beforehand but I surely was after.
We sat at a table with my son and daughter-in-law, my daughter and son-in-law, and my brother and sister-in-law. It was a lot of fun seeing them and visiting. We live so close and yet we seem to be unable to get together very often.
I always dread going to these kinds of events. For one thing the number of people is difficult for me. I am truly introverted and the more people at a gathering the more drained of energy I feel as the time passes. Judy is the opposite. She is energized by being around people. But not me. By the end I am barely able to walk to the car.
The other thing that is hard for me is recognizing people. For whatever reason or reasons I have a hard time distinguishing and recognizing faces and then remembering who that person is. I am fine when people are in the right context - like at their office or home. But just a casual meeting at a restaurant or something where I don't expect to find them causes me a lot of trouble. So it is confusing for me and difficult and sometimes embarrassing.
But I always have a good time all the same. And that was true this time as well.
In this case it was a wonderful privilege to be so blessed to be invited to pray at this event. I do not know exactly why I was asked. I wasn't sure I should or could or even wanted to at first. My life for the past decade and longer has certainly been far from public.
Many years ago I had on several occasions stood before large crowds. I wouldn't say it was so frequent that I was accustomed to it but it was enough that I had some confidence about myself. I certainly never intentionally want to embarrass myself or others but it sometimes happens.
Plus I didn't think I was very qualified really. One thing caregiving did for me was give me plenty of opportunity to pray but that was private. It also was rather humbling. Then I suspected that out of the many dozens or hundreds of people eligible to offer a prayer that they could surely find someone better suited.
But I prayed about it and thought about it and asked Judy what she thought. So I finally decided to do it.
Offering a prayer in front of family or friends is different because there aren't so many there and they are friendly (usually). Church is bigger but also friendly. But offering a prayer before a public gathering is a little tricky I think. There are lots of people for one thing and they are not all friendly or at least you don't know for sure.
I did not want to offend those who do not worship at all and I am certain there were some there like that. Neither did I want to offend those who worship someone else and I know there were some like that. And I've been a believer long enough to know that it is easy to offend those who have a different idea about prayer even if they agree with you.
On the other hand I needed to be sincere and true to myself. So I decided to not prepare anything and just trust that the Lord would give me something. So it was pretty much the same thing I do when asked to pray at a family gathering. I was a little surprised at how short it was but having served as an audience member at such things I think brevity is always a plus.
We left before the live auction was finished. It was pretty lively and there were some real bargains, too.
I had to pay for our silent auction things and we approached the counter where this was occurring. I am still unaccustomed to people putting a Mr. in front of my name. Apparently I have reached the age now were Mr. is an appropriate title as well as being qualified for certain senior citizen discounts.
But that is another story entirely.