These days are not uneventful. Footnoting that somewhat blasé first sentence are these chapter headings if not book titles.
From the Huffington Post the declaration that 25% of Americans believe that God will decide who will win the Super Bowl.
From ESPN news that “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks has died at the age of 83.
Also in the Huffington Post news that Marcus Borg died at the age of 72.
And the news that the congregation where I’m interim pastor will present their candidate for the settled pastoral position next month.
And the reality there is no cure for homesickness.
All of this…in a few days last week…
Of course what is essential is not my “take,” although I will not crawfish on same. Rather it is my hope each of you can “sense within and beyond” your own response to some of the news. And see how it is mirrored in your own life.
On the possibility God will choose who wins the Super Bowl…I want nothing to do with that understanding or presentation of God. Just think. Is there any clearer way to motivate someone to toss God to the side if “my” team loses? My God does not throw a football—whether or not it’s under-or-over-inflated. My God is with me…no matter what. THAT is what compels me, THAT is what guides and drives me. Yesterday’s sermon dealt with that…the calling of the disciples…and some lean toward Nathanael who wondered “if anything good can come out of Nazareth?” Well? At times don’t each of us muse over that…even more personal: “can anything good come of me?” Hey, I believe something good can come out of each of us…because “God don’t make no junk” as my wonderful friend Lucy McCorkle use to offer…and Good Friday never wins. If anything that’s a good focus upon God…who is with us, no matter who wins a football game.
I was struck far more that Marcus Borg and Ernie Banks died. Marcus Borg was 72. Not that I agreed with him totally—but his provocative and stimulating thought, especially in his book, “Meeting Jesus Again For the First Time,” brought me to a healthier relationship with Jesus and the Bible. Often have I quoted him to those who find the Bible inerrant: “I take the Bible seriously, not literally.” I do believe and live my life on this: the tomb is empty. But, I know that Jesus is a prophet, a pastor, a priest. Most of all, Jesus is One who lived in such fidelity that He moved beyond the temptation to give up or give in. Such tenacity is the most veritable manner of living I know…no matter how many more days to experience. That is what I sense with Marcus Borg…he didn’t fear death…nope. He never believed a life well lived is perhaps not likely. He went with Angelo that today is a gift; that’s why it’s called the present. His witness…such a gift…that I hope we each can accept.
And, oh my, Ernie Banks. His love for baseball [I ALWAYS have one—from one of my latest games—on my desk shelf.] and his statement about playing a baseball game, “Let’s play two!” If only. If only our lives had more consistency with that joy, that zest. Never stop pitching and never stop swinging. Find something good, the better option. Like the 6 year old who tossed a ball up and swung, wanting to be the next home run king. He missed three times, smiled, “Guess I should be a pitcher!” Now. THAT’S the attitude…something good.
As for our own future—the interim is about to conclude, my last sermon with such a marvelous congregation, the Congregational Church on Mercer Island, will be on March 1. The congregation is in great shape to receive their new pastor—and that feels good.
Diane and I will be returning to Austin. Where we live…what we’ll do [well, a new novel is percolating] is not of concern. What will be of concern is we accept each new day as gift and invitation. A gift from God who really doesn’t take sides with a football team. And an invitation to live in fullness…to start with the sunrise…and to know goodness and life can be breathed and expressed. And a way, so important, that grandparenting for and with Diane’s three grandsons in San Marcos, Texas, to be more than a good idea.
Okay. A little preachy. But, to my mind and heart and soul, it’s not so much preachy as it is abiding within and shared with each of you. Trust that’s okay. Be good to yourself…you are worth it.
This picture I share to conclude this reflection…taken on a beautiful morning on the Skagit River in northern Washington—the beauty of the picture is not as profound as the truth of “God with us,” morning, noon and night and forever.