Strange ideas

I’m a big fan of vaccines. I get my flu shot every year. I’ve had my pneumonia shot and I got a MMR booster last time I needed a tetanus shot. I don’t want to get sick. Even more, I don’t want to share illness with others. So, when my doctor recommended the Zoster vaccine live, I got the shot. Then, in 2017 the Shingrix vaccine became the preferred shingles vaccine. I got quite a few recommendations from my doctor when I turned 65 and one of the recommendations was to go ahead with the Shingrix vaccine. I went down to the pharmacy and got the vaccine that day, even though I’d already had a flu shot and a pneumonia shot the same day. My shoulder was a little sore for a day or so and then I forgot about it.

The recommended way of administering Shingrix is to have one shot and then in 3 - 6 months to have a second shot. It made sense to me, so I asked the pharmacy to call me when it was time for my second dose. In the meantime, the recommendation for Shingrix was changed from vaccinating everyone over 65 to vaccinating everyone over 50. A shortage of the vaccine resulted and I was having trouble finding my second dose. Fortunately I have a friend who is a pharmacist and he told me not to worry. He would call when there was some vaccine available. So when he called yesterday, I was in his office within 15 minutes getting my shot.

I don’t react much to vaccinations, so I didn’t expect much. My arm didn’t ache. I went on through my day. My pharmacist had warned me of flu-like symptoms and perhaps an achy arm, but I didn’t worry. I wasn’t having any trouble.

A couple of hours after i went to bed last night, however, a low-grade fever struck. I could feel the spot in my arm and decided that I was having a bit of a reaction. No worries. I was safe and at home and so I simply stayed in bed. I’ve found that lying very still helps when I’m feeling a bit of nausea, so I tried to lie very still.

The result was a fitful time of dozing and waking and waking and dozing. I went through my sermon for Sunday in my mind, but I was thinking things that I would never say. In my somewhat altered way of thinking, I came up with a sermon that was chastising the folks in my church and calling them out for what I perceived to be failures. I know I don’t feel that way about the members of my church. I know I wouldn’t say those things, so I decided to think of something else. I started to think about my Palm Sunday sermon. Again, I went off track and started to think about a sermon that would be totally inappropriate in any church. I knew that I wasn’t thinking straight, but I couldn’t make myself think straight.

I thought about getting up and reading a book, but my queasiness was keeping me in bed, afraid to move things around.

This morning the whole episode seems very silly. I wasn’t really sick. I din’t have much of a fever. Things are pretty much back to normal except for a little sore spot on my shoulder where the injection was administered.

Our bodies are amazingly complex. Psalm 139 says “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I like the combination of fearful and wonderful. I think that reflects my experience. My brain is connected through my nervous system to my body and when something changes in my physical health, my mental facilities are a bit strained. Not to self: “Don’t preach when you have a fever.” Except I think I’ve done that in the past, which makes me wonder what I’ve said.

For a long time I keep the sermons that I wrote for my student church. I think they are still in a file cabinet and i can probably find them if I go looking. It was amusing, during the first decade or so of my career, to get out those sermons and marvel at the understanding and patience of the congregation I served. Those are really bad sermons. I thought I was doing a good job, but I was awkward with my ideas and woefully uneducated in my approach to the bible. Four years of seminary improved my preaching a bit, but I really think that it took me most of decade to develop the style and approach that has been my companion throughout my career. Somehow, however, the congregations I served put up with me long enough for me to develop a bit of skill and to learn how to deliver a cogent sermon.

My style is to go over and over the week’s sermon. I share a summary of my ideas in two different bible studies, one of which is comprised of colleagues who will also be preaching, usually on the same texts. I summarize my ideas to the church staff when we coordinate music and other elements of worship. I spend time in the sanctuary when no one else is in the building going over the sermon.

Now, I’ve found a new technique. If I elevate my temperature a bit, I get a fairly clear idea of what not to say and of ideas to avoid in my preaching. The problem is that I don’t want to have a fever every week. I don’t like feeling nauseous. And, I’ve finished my Shingrix shots. I don’t think I will need another unless they develop yet another new vaccine. I’m thinking that the experience isn’t particularly one worth repeating.

Later today I think I’ll go over this week’s sermon. And then I think I’ll do so again tomorrow and one more time before church of Sunday. Perhaps my thinking will clear up enough that I can avoid the worst mistakes. In the meantime, I’d better keep up with my vaccines. Heaven knows what would happen if I ever really got sick.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!