Wednesday, December 31, 2008
My Soul Looks Back - The Best of 2008
There are several highlights of 2008 for me that I want to acknowledge at the beginning of 2009.So, for the first year here's my BEST OF List.
Best Preaching 2008
Anyone who knows me knows that I love good preaching, and sometimes I am even accused of contributing to that project my own self. I am pleased to say that I heard a lot of great sermons during the year, but the two most memorable were preached by
1. Rev. Dr. Gina Stewart's "Crowd Control", preached Wednesday morning at the Hampton Minister's Conference.
2. Rev. Tim Poston, "Woman Behold Thy Son," preached during a marvelous set of "Seven Last Words" on Good Friday 2008.
I can't leave this category without offering shout outs to Pastor Brenda Cuthbertson and Rev. Albert F. Campbell who bring a word every Sunday to their Philadelphia congregations. I also want to thank Rev. Dr. Alison Gise-Johnson for a word in October that simply made me want to follow Jesus more closely.
As for my own preaching last year, I'll let the hearers say which they found memorable or, better yet, transformative. If you have nominees, please post in the comments section. Without commenting on the content of the sermons, however, I have to speak about the honor of preaching for Martin Luther King Sunday at Marble Collegiate Church in New York in January, as well as preaching for a conference at Allen Temple Baptist in Oakland in October.
In August 2008, I made my first pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine. Along with some of my closest friends, I walked by the Sea of Galilee. I floated in the Dead Sea. Raphael Warnock and Tony Lee baptized me in the Jordan River. I reciprocated. Our group met with Israelis and Palestinians, worshipped at a Baptist church in Jerusalem, dipped our toes in the Mediterranean, and toured holy sites. Bethelehem, Jerusalem, Nain, and Emmaus are no longer abstract concepts. I've seen the 2008 version of them. It was marvelous to see the holy sites, but I have to say again that my old and new friends made the trip truly special. I hope we will be able to travel again together. Hear that, State Mother?
For other reasons altogether, I have to include another August trip as an Honorable Mention in this category. Early in the month, I drove to WV for the Mount View High School Class of 1988 20th Reunion.
I wasn't sure exactly why I was going; I just felt like I need to do so. I had a great time and reconnected with old friends. Sometimes it's just good to go.
For me, 2008 was basically a baseball year. On June 19th, I joined a crowd of Yankees fans in the soon-to-be-demolished Yankee Stadium to see the Yankees beat the Padres 1-0. Although there were no obvious offensive or defensive highlights, the low, close score provided an opportunity for me to see Chamberlain start and Mariano Rivera close the game. The weather was perfect. The company sublime. And I had my moment in Yankee Stadium.
But of course the big baseball news for me this year was the Phillies who won the World Series. I became an earnest Phillies fan in the 2007 season when I literally lost sleep worrying about them in August. This year, I just pulled for them, yelled for them, and celebrated their rise to the top of the heap. For me the best moment in the whole baseball year was when our pitcher Joe Blanton hit a homerun in in game 4, the second home game. In fact, the pitchers made the postseason in so many ways. I love it that Jamie Moyer is still pitching well into his 40s. His diving throw to first base showed his athleticism and his heart. Brett Myers' extended at bat flustered ace CC Sabathia in the Division series. Cole Hamels pitched like a champ and got MVP awards to prove it. And Brad Lidge was ... well PERFECT in save opportunities. I love the Phillies!
Now the Eagles, on the other hand, gave me little to cheer about until their last game in 2008, when they pounded the Dallas Cowboys 44-6. We're in the playoffs. Who woulda thunk it?
Honorable mention to Tiger Woods who won the US Open on a broken leg.
Those of you who followed my comments on this blog and others know that the presidential election of 2008 dominated my thinking for months, beginning in 2007. Everyone knows that this election was filled with firsts and lasts. It was high drama that ended with the landslide election of Barack Hussein Obama as the nation's 44th President.
I have to offer my thanks to the bloggers who gave my mind an outlet in the midst of all of the nonsense in the mainstream media. Special thanks to the Best Blog, Renita Weems's Something Within, without which I would have gone insane during the election cycle. Dr. Weems is always on point. I am also thankful to AverageBro, What About our Daughters, Jack and Jill Politics, and the Huffington Post.
A lot of great things happened for me in 2008, but I am especially thrilled to have become a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I have a new job at New York Theological Seminary. I have made new friends. I have re-connected with long-time friends. It's a great life. Bring on 2009.