In the Meantime,
You know the joke: “I just flew back from LA and boy are my arms tired.” Well, I just drove back from LA, and boy is my….tired. No kidding, drove 400 miles and came right to the office and started this column, and if there was a way to write it standing up I would.
This somewhat personal fact is actually a teaching moment, as you may be gathering. It occurred to me that sometimes what aches is the part of us that is not getting enough use. Not only physical parts, but mental and spiritual parts. It’s not for nothing that St. Ignatius Loyola wrote a book of spiritual exercises, deliberately evoking military life which is what he did before becoming a monk. Likewise John Milton defended free argument and discussion saying, “our faith and knowledge thrives by exercise, as well as our limbs and complexion.”
We all know the phrase, “use it or lose it” and assume it means our bodies which is true, but it also means our mind and heart. I wonder if we are in need (society, not this congregation) of greater exercise of mind? When I behold the news and its sound bite quality, hear those who believe proven falsehoods, witness the fear of the non threat of sex education of Critical Race Theory, I see evidence of the flaccid and unexercised mind. You may recall my horror at the ranting anti-semite at the local Chandler School Board. That was a cry of pain, but the pain of disuse and decay, of a mind unable to think.
How do you exercise your mind? What are you pushing your mind to understand? How do you exercise your spirit? What is stretching your heart, as the Grinch’s was stretched? At its best, a congregation does that. It is my hope each week to have pushed your mind a little further, and stretched your heart a little wider. Sometimes it happens, but if Sunday is the only day, it won’t last, any more than exercising an hour a week.
Personally, I walk at least an hour every day for both body and spirit. Writing friends, email these days, deliberately to stay in touch, keeps my heart wide. For the mind, I am reading all those hard books from seminary I didn’t read then or read only for a grade. Reading the Hebrew scriptures, in Hebrew to the extent that I can, makes me see the world through a different lens.
Make that your resolution this year – to adopt an exercise plan for your mind and heart. It will take effort, and it will be at times dreary, but I guarantee you it will pay off.
Now some logistics:
As mentioned last week, I will be in Michigan starting January 6 to be of help to Wendy. I shall be serving you from there for a few weeks. It is still my plan to be with you in Arizona at least half the time through June, though specifics are hard to ascertain right now. Do email me, and if important, call or text. Do remember, that the East Time Zone is 2 hours ahead of Arizona.
Worship in January will be wide ranging and accommodate my physical absence. I will be in the sanctuary Jan 2, but after that my friend and colleague the Rev. Bill Freeman will be our virtual preacher on Jan 9. Another colleague, the Rev. Patrice Curtis, will be our preacher Jan. 16. I will share the service with our Lay Pastoral Care Associates, the Caring Neighbors Committee and the Threshold Choir on Jan 23. And on Jan 30 we will ‘go behind the scenes’ and explore what it takes to create virtual and broadcast ministry. I will be with you virtually every Sunday, inviting you to worship, inspiring your offerings and adding prayerful words.