The following is a guest post from my sister, Rev. Cheryl D. Ward…EnJoy
I REALLY went to church last Sunday
Last Saturday night, we held a gospel concert in commemoration of World AIDS Day. The guest artist included some of San Francisco Bay Area’s best soloist and choirs and we had a great time in worship. My long-time friend, colleague and sister, Bishop Yvette Flunder, served as the worship leader and her anointed words and singing took the program over the top.
The next morning, my spirit longed for more worship and word, so I decided to attend her churches Homecoming celebration. It was great to see so many people I had not seen in years and to find out the wonderful things they were currently doing in ministry. In fact, I began feeling quite nostalgic as I reminisced about the many years of friendship that many of us shared and the things we’ve seen each other through. The other feeling that took me by surprise was a physical weakness that made me fear that I was getting ready to pass out in the middle of service. My blood pressure was rapidly dropping low and my body was getting weaker by the minute. I had experienced this a few days earlier and realized that I had not eaten or taken my morning medications. This day was different because I made it a point to eat before I left home, so my glucose levels would not drop unexpectedly. I am not a diabetic, but sometimes this happens as a side-effect of other medications.
I sat through half of the worship service but felt as if my symptoms were worsening, so I beckoned to Bobbi Jean – the usher seated directly behind me – and asked for some water and salt. (Sea Salt raises the blood pressure). When Bobbi Jean returned with the salt and water, I thought it best to see if there was someone available to actually take my blood pressure. She quickly escorted me out of the sanctuary into a private room.
As I sat down, three people entered the room to be of assistance. Sugar Bear – whom I had known for many years – said, “Pastor, sit down, we’re going to take good care of you.” She quickly pulled out a Blood Pressure monitor and proceeded to check my levels. Jeremy, – whom I was meeting for the first time – took my other wrist and began to check my Heart Rate. Deacon Traci – another longtime friend – brought a glass of water and told me to drink all of it. She has such a commanding presence and a real gift for taking care of pastors, I dared not to question her. Janice – another longtime friend – entered the room and said, “I was watching you in service and I knew something was wrong.” In that moment and in the surrounding presence of each of them, a calmness began to settle inside of me.
In a matter of minutes, we discovered that my Blood Pressure had dropped to 72/60, which explained the symptoms I was experiencing. They continued to administer the water and had even sent someone to the store to purchase Sea Salt.
My body suddenly got very cold and I was shaking in an uncontrollable manner. This caused a sudden sense of panic inside of me and Sugar Bear wrapped her jacket around me, while Jeremy sent for Pastor David – whom I had never met – a professional nursing instructor.
I was sure they were getting ready to call 911 and I was going to the hospital – something I hate to do. Sugar Bear handed him a Glucose Monitor and determined that my Blood Sugar was also low. By this time, five people were checking my vitals, giving me water and feeding me to expeditiously raise my levels. It was as if Angels had been dispatched all around me. At that moment, an overwhelming sense of gratitude arose from within and I began to thank God, and each of them, then began to weep. I was very clear that this story could have unfolded very differently! And I was grateful that I was in the right place, with the right people, at the right time. Not long after, getting my levels back to normal, they escorted me back in worship service, then afterward to the dining hall to share a meal with the other pastors. Janice took my car keys and had her son drive me home to Oakland, while she followed in her car. (Mind you, she was headed home to Sacramento – but took the time to do this for me).
I missed the entire sermon and some of the songs, but I certainly did not miss worship. In fact, all five of them were my own personal ministers. I REALLY went to church last Sunday and I REALLY saw THE church for the first time. It was nothing like I had ever imagined it or how I was taught it looked. Five people – Angels – took care of me and it didn’t matter if they were white or black, same gender loving or heterosexual, bi-sexual or trans-gender. If I had been in the emergency room, I would have never questioned the nurses or the doctors taking care of me, so why do we do it in the church? What mattered most in that moment, was that they knew that Jesus never said what his people were supposed to look like, he said “you will know my people by their love – and the greatest among us would be the one who serves.”
Rev. Cheryl D. Ward
Cheryl Ward Ministries