• Happy Easter to all.
  • You can check out all our video productions for Holy Week at our church's website:  mattoonumc.com.
  • The solo, "The Holy City" can be heard here. Special thanks go to Jiafeng Yan, my accompanist.
  • Got to go:  our family is having a zoom gathering in a few minutes...our way of safely bringing 4 generations together for this Holy Day.  Stay healthy my dear friends...

April  12, 2020
Post-Easter Preacher-Brain
I'm reflecting today on a condition known as PEPB:  Post-Easter Preacher Brain.  

Even though churches around the world were empty this year, including my own, I'm still experiencing it this afternoon.  After a week of ramped up spirituality, nail-biting deadlines, and high-pressure public performances...the average preacher's brain involuntarily goes into some twilight zone on Easter Sunday afternoon.  Even when I was young, it took me a whole week to recover.  Last year PEPB brought me down for almost two months.  That's one reason I knew it was time to retire.
I thought this year would be different, since we had no "live" services.  But Holy Week and Easter are too important for me to slack off.  And so several of us have worked long hours to "produce" five special worship experiences on video, from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday.  The enterprise involved in conceiving, writing, and producing videos turns out to be even more labor intensive and more stressful than doing Holy Week the old fashioned way.
Since I am writing this to you on Easter Sunday afternoon, with PEPB, the rest of this essay will consist entirely of short thoughts, going nowhere particular.  

I finished my Easter sermon by singing "The Holy City"...for about the 35th year in a row.  My daughter Alison was watching the video production outside outside on her patio, on her computer (in Madison, Wisconsin) and granddaughter Isobel was eating in her high chair.  By the time I got to the last part of the song, Isobel (age 19 months) was bopping and swaying to the music...the first time I've ever had dance accompaniment to my solo.  

"The Holy City" is a Victorian ballad from England, written in 1892.  The composer was Michael Maybrick, a well-known singer in his day.  He often teamed up with lyricist Fred Weatherly to produce his music.  Other numbers by Maybrick included "A Warrior Bold," "Nancy Lee," "They All Love Jack," "Your Dear Brown Eyes," and "The Children of the City."  Their number, "The Holy City" was a tremendous hit 120 years ago and was considered the most pirated piece of music in the world prior to the dawn of the internet.

I like the piece because it expresses with music and lyric the three great spiritual regions:  Innocence, Darkness, and Hope.  

My wife gave me a haircut today.  I'm not sure if I've suddenly developed several tumors on the side of my heard, or if things like that grow on the side of the head of a preacher suffering PEPB, or if they're just some spots she missed.  I didn't mind getting a free haircut from her during this pandemic, but I will definitely start tipping my barber 40% instead of the usual 20% from now on.  

I go tomorrow to the ophthalmologist to get an injection (retina).  They normally aren't seeing patients during this high infection time unless one's vision is getting worse.  And with all the extra computer time to do my work these days, I'm having more problems.  So, I hope the injection helps.  I've always had great vision all my life, and am quite spoiled.  But even Jordan, my twenty-something associate here, is having eye strain with all the close computer work we are having to do these days.

The eye doctor visit will be one of three trips we make to Urbana/Champaign this week.  On Wednesday we are back there for the final walk through of the house we are buying.  And then we are back again on Friday for the closing.  

Well, no one wants to spend much time reading an essay by someone with PEPB.  So I'll relieve you for now and wish you a very happy and blessed Easter.  And you can be in suspense until next week to see whether my brain recovers more quickly this year!

 The Sunday letter is something I have done now for over 20 years.  It is a disciplined musing:  mindfulness, memory, and imagination.  I used to write it when I first woke up on a Sunday morning and then share it with the congregation. Now I write it on a Saturday, revise it, and send all of them out by email.This discipline of thinking and writing puts me in the place of describing rather than pontificating.  It prepares me to proclaim the gospel rather than get preachy with the souls who will sit before me.  --JMS


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