Thursday, January 8, 2009
The Preacher’s Corner
Centering holidays around food ensures dieting
Americans are great observers of times and seasons. Beginning with Labor Day, there is quite a progression of them. You can see the grand sweep as the displays change in the “seasonal aisle” in stores such as Fred’s, Wal-Mart, or Target. Most have candy or other food that is featured. Halloween, of course, is the first. There are both candy and costumes for Halloween. Then comes Thanksgiving. The delicacies associated with this day need not be recounted.
Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanza are over. Each one features good things to eat. The New Year celebrations are done, and now we have entered into the Great Season of the Diet. The TV is full of commercials for all the various spas, gyms, and diet plans. Nutri-System is offering a special deal so you can lock in their sale price and buy an entire year of their meals, thus assuring that you will have all these items in non-refundable quantity before you realize you cannot eat one more of them. (After a week, they all taste the same, and are loaded with salt!)
Even though the weather is rough, we see people out walking, jogging, and doing exercise of every sort. How many made New Year’s resolutions to lose 20 pounds? I guess that when we repeat our “confession of sins” at church saying, “We have done those things we ought not to have done, and we have left undone those things we ought to have done,” many in the congregation are associating the words with food and exercise. (That is why Lent follows Christmas).
Contemplat-ing all this, I was reminded of my seminary roommate, who was — well, shall we say, a gentleman of athletic build who had ceased exercising but still ate the number of calories needed to keep a football lineman up to speed for peak performance on the gridiron.
I walked in one day to find my friend parked in front of the TV drinking a can of Metrical and happily munching on a Milky Way bar.
When I questioned this scene, my friend informed me that Metrical was designed to guarantee its user the loss of 20 pounds within the space of a month. (Do they even make that stuff any more?) I averred this might be true, but the plan was that you drank the Metrical and consumed nothing else. “No Milky Ways?” my roommate asked incredulously? “No Milky Ways!” I assured him. (It is the first of many bits of bad news I have had to deliver as a pastor.)
Since those days my friend and I have gone our separate ways, and I have no idea how his diets have gone in the past few years.
But I do know my own struggles, and I hope to get through the next few weeks without any untoward holiday feeds. But Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day are just around the corner. It makes me wonder if a religion could survive that did not center its holidays around food.
At our denominational district office, there used to be all sorts of pulpits and communion vessels gathered up from old churches that had closed. It was quite an interesting collection.
For lack of proper storage space, there was even a large pulpit that stood in the corner of the men’s room! However, if you wanted to build a new church and be successful, I’d suggest you start with the kitchen. In fact, come to think of it, as I write this, it is January 6 — the Feast of the Three Kings! I wonder what the wise men ate?
Would anyone care to join me in starting a church oriented toward dietary austerity and physical fitness?
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