Today I heard a friend (who happens to be a layman) preach at Mass. This was most unusual, because in the Catholic church, it's usually the priest who does the preaching.
We met Joe and Donna a couple of years ago, through a group that our children were involved in. They attend a church in South St. Louis, and have invited us to come with them several times over the years; when we heard that Joe would be preaching we decided that today would be the day.
The neighborhood where the church is located was about a half hour drive from our house. The church (which is more than 100 years old) is housed in a beautiful old building, but the inside had been remodeled; the building still has stained glass windows lining the walls, but the sanctuary area was simple, decorated with a crucifix and fall decorations.
The parish is considered fairly liberal; lay preachers aren't the only visible sign that this church is different. Every time God was referred to with a masculine pronoun (He, Him, His) in a prayer or a song, it was changed to something gender-neutral. During the Eucharistic Prayer, a section where the congregation usually kneels, we continued standing. At the end of the General Intersessions, which are petitions offered by the priest and the members of the congregation, a parishioner prayed for someone who was ill and starting cancer treatments. She sent around a prayer shawl for the woman and asked each person to pray over it as the Mass continued.
A Sunday Mass has three readings from the Bible. The first two readings were done by laypeople, which I'm used to, but after the priest read the Gospel, Joe got up and started speaking. He did a great job of relating today's readings to everyday life, even including anecdotes from his work life which emphasized his points.
At the end of Mass the priest publicity welcomed all of the visitors (about a half-dozen of us), and asked them to stand up and introduce themselves. We tried to remain anonymous, but Joe spoke up and pointed out me and Tony.
All in all, it was a very interesting morning.