A Sermon Somewhere: Allergies? Head Cold? Maybe the Flu. . .


The last time I went out for a run was 16 days and a century ago.  It was a rather picturesque run in the mountains of central Idaho but the scenery did little to compensate for my misery.  At that point I had a splitting headache, a stuffy nose and a congested chest.  I attributed the symptoms to allergies.  After all, every one who moves to Utah complains that their allergies are ten times worse here and the tree pollen was (and maybe still is?) at its annual high.  So I wrote myself a prescription for running in Idaho under the guise it would help clear the pollen out of my system.

It did help a bit but the headache and stuffy nose didn’t go away, even after I returned home to Utah.  As if to add insult to injury the “pollen” caused a fever of 101 degrees for a couple days.  Still I pressed on.  I preached last Sunday with a hoarse voice, a runny nose and a pounding headache.

Then I went to District Assembly.  For a pastor there is never a good week to be sick but District Assembly has to be the worst by far, unless I lived local to our district office, in which case, sign me up to call in sick.  But our district office is 320 miles away, which for me means 2 full travel days and 3, 15 hour long days with multiple speaking opportunities and few opportunities to sit down.  I did okay Wednesday.  I did worse Thursday.  On Friday I woke up without a voice and no desire to get out of bed.  For the first time it occurred to me that it might not be allergies but a head cold.

Then other people have appeared out of nowhere (also known as “Facebook”) claiming the same symptoms but throwing around the word “flu.”  The only problem is that I don’t get the flu because, you know, I am awesome and awesome people don’t get the flu.  At the very least awesome people don’t admit to having the flu.  To be fair, awesome people shouldn’t really get head colds either.  They can struggle with allergies, of course, but they muscle through it like the super heroes they are.

However, I would much rather have the flu than a head cold.  The problem with head colds is that they aren’t really all that bad.  You can work through stuffy noses and pressure head aches and sore throats.  And if you choose not to, than you are lazy, like sinfully lazy.  On top of that, with a head cold, you can lay in your bed or on your couch all day and feel energetic and great, with mild congestion.  If you choose to do that you second guess yourself constantly.  That little Protestant Guilt Angel, whom I’ll just call “Guilt”, whispers in your ear, “See you are fine, you lazy bum!  Get off the couch and accomplish something with your life!”

But the minute you give in to the temptation and pull yourself up to do anything, all the symptoms come cascading back.  Five minutes of “activity” and suddenly you can’t think or walk straight and have trouble putting together coherent sentences.  So you collapse back on the bed and listen to the Guil’s voice for another hour while you slip in and out of consciousness.

Be that as it may, I still called in sick this morning.  After all, no matter what caused the symptoms, you can’t exactly give a 20 minute pep speech if you can’t talk.  So here I sit arguing with Guilt, trying to answer his accusations with reasonable claims like, “I am doing my congregation a favor because I am probably contagious!”  “Sure my voice sounds fine now because all I’ve done is muttered two sentences this morning but a twenty minute monologue would sure bring out the coughs and croaks!”  “It is quite possible I might faint right there on the stage and I know pastors who have done that and never lived it down!” And my personal favorite, “My sermon wasn’t all that great anyway.”

That last one isn’t true at all.  The sermon was awesome, a wonderful little number on the apostle Paul’s wounds and griefs, complete with a clip from the sitcom Scrubs to bring the message home.  Sure I would have hated it after preaching it but now I get to think it is awesome forever with no proof to the contrary, or really just no proof at all.  Actually, truth be told, I have nothing planned for Memorial Day so it will probably get preached then.

Meanwhile I sit here in front of my laptop, starting to feel that my five minutes of coherency are down and that I should probably go sleep to back before ramble I to start incoherently while blowing my chest and coughing my nose while dazing into dreaming of a sermon somewhere.  .  .


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