These days, whenever I am inspired to write, whether a sermon or a blog entry, I pull out my handy dandy iPad. Last week I started three blog entries that I intended to finish at a later time, but finding the time to write has been like trying to lock down an ever elusive lover.
What has been on my mind?
Well, one entry was an open letter to Jennifer Hudson. She has been my inspiration lately and I felt I owed her an apology. When the Weight Watchers commercials first debuted some time ago, I was hating, to say the least. I didn't understand why such a beautiful woman, regardless of her size, would drop so much weight. I felt as if she had sold out to the hollywood mandates of beauty as it relates to the size of a woman's body. I felt betrayed, like she had left me alone. Having beautiful curvy black women in the public eye has a way of making a husky girl (remember that line of clothes at Sears back in the day) like me feel good. As I unpacked my thoughts (this took some time, reaching its climax when the newest WW commercials came out), I realized that my hate was coming from a place of personal insecurity and fear. The truth is, regardless of what I wrote some months ago after my visit to the trainer, that I need to get a handle on my weight. In recent months I have picked up (again) all of the weight I had lost. Sure, I have been in transition (graduation, wedding, move, ordination, ministry) but at this rate, my health is at risk. I have been exhausted lately with no good reason except my body is not in its optimal state and doesn't have the energy to run efficiently. I have had a few health challenges which I know (and my doctor told me) could be warded off with diet and exercise. When I was 20, I went from 220lbs to 168lbs. I was serious!!! But since then, over the past 13 years (dang, I feel old) I have gone up and down in weight, rivaling Oprah, but never have I lost as much as I did that first go round. When I see the charts that say what healthy is, I buck, not because I don't want to be healthy, but mostly because I am afraid that I do not have the strength, will, courage to take off the necessary weight to be at optimal health, and if I do, as time has shown, I don't have the smarts and/or resolve to keep it off. But the devil is a liar, and I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! So here we go again...and prayerfully this is the last time! Jennifer, I see you looking and feeling great...here I come!
That revelation/truth telling has led me to a 14-day detox, which I started yesterday. This was the subject of another entry. In my wakened state, I am ready to move forward. I am, in the words of Fannie Lou Hamer, sick and tired of being sick and tired. So last week I went to the health food store near our house and purchased a 14-day complete cleanse. Whenever I seriously begin a weight loss/exercise regimen, I detox my body of all the gunk that has built up. It's like and oil change for the body. Yesterday did not go as well as I had planned, mostly because I had not planned well. When undertaking a detox and or weight loss regimen, planning is of paramount importance. The day wasn't a total bust, but between three church services and starting the day with a not-so great breakfast, I did not get to drink as much water as I would have liked (and needed), nor were my food choices the greatest. As it were, I did not eat enough in fear of eating the wrong foods. But, today is a new day. And for the sake of accountability, I plan to blog my detox.
So, here goes...Besides being exhausted (see below), I feel pretty good today. I started the day with Kellog's Raisin Bran and soy milk, which has over 29% of my daily fiber requirements. Lunch will be a broth based soup. After going to the grocery store (to get good stuff for the fridge and pantry so I do not have a repeat of yesterday), I plan to hit the gym for a light workout. When detoxing it is important not to put too much strain on the body, but I do want to get into the habit of working out four to five times each week.
Back to my exhaustion. I am getting used to the rhythms of ministry. Ministry is not a nine to five gig and it takes some getting used to. (Really its not a gig, but a calling and vocation...) And to think, I am only doing this part-time. It seems that when it rains, it pours...On Friday I started my day officiating and preaching a funeral and ended the day with a two and a half hour worship experience at Temple Beth El in City Island. I thought Black folk stay in church all day...time was of no concern to our Jewish brothers and sisters on Friday night! Although the service was long, it was a beautiful and enlightening experience with song and dance! My favorite aspect was the reciting/chanting of prayers found in Adon Olam, the prayer book they use for Shabbat. One prayer that we did not say aloud, but were asked to meditate on spoke of the Was-ness, Is-ness, and Will-be-ness of God in His Splendor! What beautiful and poetic language to describe the Immutability, or unchanging nature, of God. What a great reminder in the midst of this erratic and changing world, that God does not change. As the Bible says in the book of Hebrews, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Saturday was a full day at church with our early morning ministers meetings followed by our BASIC 201 course. BASIC 201 is a four-hour course on the developing the habits and practices necessary for spiritual maturity. It was my second time teaching the course, and we had a great time! Sunday was a marathon day, with our two services, followed by an installation of officers service at the St. John's Baptist Church in Harlem. I'm exhausted, and I didn't even preach yesterday! I can only imagine how much rest Pastor Weaver needs after such a long weekend of preaching and teaching...
(I am sure that when I get my body in check, that exhaustion will not be an issue. While we should not focus on temporal things, but on things above, I know that I know that I know that I cannot do my best work for the Kingdom when I am tired and cranky. To be a good witness for the Lord Jesus Christ and a to demonstrate my faithful stewardship of His possessions [even this old body], I must be mindful of and proactive about my health. While I am yet on this side of glory, I believe that God needs me to be my best. For me, choosing good foods and running on the treadmill are acts of devotion to Almighty God. A changed dress size is a bonus...the real reward is being able to do what God has called me to do.)
I mentioned that I preached my first funeral sermon on Friday morning. That was the subject of another blog entry that never was. I'll spare the full details that I write in Making the Sermon, but I will say that this was a tough one. I took two preaching classes while at Drew, one focused specifically on issues of death and life. We preached funeral sermons for people we did not know, taking obituaries straight from the local news. But nothing, I repeat nothing, can prepare you for the awesome task of declaring the Word of the Lord when one dies. Thomas G. Long, preacher and homiletician wrote, "The main purpose of a funeral sermon is not to soothe the brokenhearted or to provide explanations but instead to confront head-on the lies proclaimed by the other preacher at the funeral: Death." Death had said its word, and now it was my turn to speak a word from God. At one point during my preparation, I was pacing the floor, as if a Word from the Lord was under the carpet and if I wore it down enough, I would see/hear it emerge. This task was especially difficult because the service was in a funeral home for a gentleman who was not particularly religious. How do you preach the Gospel in the time of death in a way that comforts, confronts, convicts, but does not condemn? Condemnation is easy, but harmful. Comfort, when hearts are heavy and tears are streaming, is the more difficult but life giving word. Was it my best sermon? No, but thanks be to God that there is grace for this, and all, preachers, as we grow into this vocation.
As I wrap this entry up, I realize just how all of these issues are linked together. Just as we cannot compartmentalize God to a Sunday morning experience, so the details of our lives cannot be compartmentalized. Join me on my detox journey, my weight loss journey, and my journey to grow into the preacher/teacher/prophet/priest that God has created and called me to be...