Friday morning…about life and death, colorful jackets and Sager Strong

Ah, the realities of life today.

I am saddened…very deeply…that Craig Sager died after a two-year leukemia battle. He was part of the pulse of sports casting…even more, of sports. I didn’t know that Sager, 22 at the time, was the first broadcaster to interview Henry Aaron when Aaron hit his record-breaking home run. I knew that Sager and Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs, were dear friends. Also knew the respect for Sager among team owners, players and coaches. I loved his technicolor clothes. And his broadcasting. Even more, though, his courage during the leukemia battle. “Sager Strong” wasn’t a phrase as much as a life philosophy. I also appreciated the view of Reggie Miller, Hall of Fame professional basketball player and current announcer, “I gained so much from Craig. Such a class act. It means much to me that now he’s a guardian angel for me. That helps tremendously.”

I then read how an 89-year-old woman was evicted from a Florida home—she was a renter—because the owner defaulted on her mortgage bank payments. The eviction meant the homeless added another member. Some neighbors said no to that, collected money to help the lady. Another neighbor, though, took an even stronger step—she purchased the home to return the woman to her rented home, lessening by one the homeless population. That’s so impressive. Making a difference.

I read a very wise editorial reflection from the current Interim Conference Minister of our South Central Conference. Don Longbottom wrote how churches [in our United Church of Christ but also in most major denominations] are losing members and it may be in ten years, the number of churches in our conference could be less than half the current churches. In the least that is sobering. But in reality, it calls every church to take a mirror to see what their life and mission provides and then turn that mirror into a window to see what the needs of the community are. Are there any matches?

When I was in conference ministry and worked with churches searching new pastoral leadership, one of the declarations was simple, yes, but more than practical, “The challenge for you in selecting new pastoral leadership is to seek a pastoral leader whose skills best match your needs.”

No less that applies for churches. Churches? What do you do well? What does your community need? If what you do well is not what they need, it may be life and mission revision time…which could be more viable than walking under the exit sign and waving good-bye.

I know. People die. People are born. Impact to each of us. Still, as long as we’re breathing there’s every reason, more than staying alive, to be Sager Strong. I consider that not so much a good idea; rather, I consider that a mandate…to and for each of us. No matter the color of your shirt or skin.

About Mark H Miller

Diane and I live in Leander, Texas. This past June 17, 2015 I celebrated the 49th anniversary of my ordination. We returned to Texas after three years in Washington, during which I served as interim minister in Bellevue/Eastgate and Mercer Island. Am planning to begin a 5th novel that will have my protagonist, Tricia Gleason, serve a year in licensed ministry in Snoqualmie, Washington. The novel, "The Lemon Drop Didn't Melt," will find Tricia wrestling with ministry challenges. None of which more daunting than someone wanting her breathing to stop. All the published novels are available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle under Mark Henry Miller. A primary goal in our return to Texas is to make sure grandchildren get lots of attention--here and in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Traveling is definitely an activity that will not slow down. With that, of course, fishing will happen. To that the t-shirt is apt, "I fish; therefore I am." In addition to novels, the book of Blogs, "Voice Of My Heart," is also available on Amazon.
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