Prayer for Liverpool
I have to be honest and confess that ‘fitness training’ has never been high on my list of priorities. Actually, let’s be honest, I’ve never done a work-out at a gym in my life – well, not since school anyway. (In case you are wondering, that was quite a long time ago!). So imagine my trepidation when I received a serious invitation to an on-line ‘cardio workout’ ‘Body Combat’ class. More of that in a moment.
As a young adult, I never seemed to have to worry too much about fitness. I was as thin as the proverbial rake and could burn off the calories from a body that had a ‘high metabolic rate’. I think that was a euphemism for the fact that I sweated a lot! I played badminton quite a bit, which helped. I did a bit of cycle-touring. I enjoyed hill-walking when I could. I would bound up stairs at work, two or even three at a time. And I could climb with relative ease up vertical ladders on chemical plants and oil refineries. Middle age, a rather sedantary job, and the waining of the metabolic rate all seem to have conspired to produce what I suppose is known as ‘middle-age spread’. In my previous job, my Vicarage was about two miles from the church, so I cycled in and out six days a week, come rain or shine, and got a bit of exercise most days. The old ‘ticker’ was at least made to race a bit a couple of times a day. For a while we had a dog, so I’d take a brisk walk with him for an hour most days. But he died quite a few years ago, and changed circumstances meant we haven’t taken on another one.
Arriving at the Cathedral however, where I live next to ‘the shop’ means that I can practically roll out of bed and into the workplace – well, in ‘normal’ times, of course. So one good by-product of the current lockdown has been that I’ve disciplined myself to take a brisk 45 minutes walk first thing most mornings. I didn’t ask it to, but my mobile phone decided to activate a step-counter, and I find myself referring to this periodically through the day to see how I’m getting on. Making it to 10000 steps is a bit of a challenge at the moment, but I’ve done it on a few days. I even topped 13000 last week.
I am determined to do something about my fitness, however. As a thirty-something newly-ordained Curate I recall attending my first Clergy conference and being struck by the large number of rather corpulent male clergy in their 50s and 60s waddling around. I vowed that I did not want to join their ranks in due course. As I now move inexorably towards my late 50s I need to deliver on that vow!
I do also know that the Bible encourages us to keep fit. St. Paul talked of the body as a ‘Temple of the Holy Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 6:19) so that what we do with it physically is important. Corinth in the time of St. Paul, in the first Century AD, was the venue for the Isthmian Games, second only to the Olympic Games in the ancient world. So Paul would have seen the athletes training and preparing themselves for the track or stadium. He used this as a metaphor for encouraging those who seek to follow Christ in their daily lives: “Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:24-27). Righto! Youch. I’m not too keen on the sound of ‘punishing’ and ‘enslaving’ my body! When Paul wrote to Timothy, a young church leader, he said ‘physical training is of some value’ (1 Tim. 4:8). ‘Some value’ – of course he was pointing out that spiritual training was even more important. Yet, we clearly must not discount the physical stuff either, especially as we are being made all the more aware that good physical and mental health are often connected.
I know that, during this lockdown, many people are taking the opportunity to do some fitness training at home. A certain instructor called Joe has become quite a celebrity and popular with people of all ages. I can see the appeal, especially if you can do it in the privacy of your home, without having to parade yourself on the ‘catwalk’ of the local gym. I don’t think anyone wants to see me in lycra at 7.45am in the morning (or any other time for that matter). The invitation I’ve had is not from Joe, however, but from my younger daughter Rachel, who is living with us through the lockdown, as her acting work in London has come to a grinding halt. One other string to her bow is that she is a qualified fitness instructor. So it’s very hard to say ‘No’ to one’s offspring isn’t it? As it is, she can beat me at arm-wrestling so, being a typcial ego-tistical bloke, I know I need to do something about my upper-body strength in order to try and beat her on a re-match.
So I will go for it later today for the first time by joining one of her weekly classes. If I put my back out, who do I blame? Perhaps some of you would like to join me? It’s all on Zoom – you could always make contact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll pass on your enquiry. If that’s not your thing or not appropriate, nevertheless it is a good idea to be thinking during this lockdown how we can improve our physical fitness and develop some helpful habits that might last well beyond the current crisis.
‘Temples of the Holy Spirit’, remember!
While you're here:
Why not prepare for next Sunday's worship? Our preparation sheet for adults and for children can be accessed by clicking on the Resources tab of this website: https://www.prayerforliverpool.org/prayer-resources.html.
Prayer for Liverpool
brought to you from Liverpool Cathedral
St James Mount
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