Thursday, November 28, 2013

Being Thankful For the Mess


What is Thanksgiving about?  We of course can make it about shopping, parades, family, food, harvest, football or travel.  The American holiday can have a lot of different meanings for a lot of folks.  The first Thanksgiving of the Pilgrims was not about those things so much as the providence of God.  These survivors of a harsh environment were recognizing something that is not really an element of our modern way of looking at life.  The idea that God controls and governs all of life is the idea of providence.  It is the idea that our story is not the product of chance or created by ourselves.  God is in control of all that is in our lives and how it comes about.  For Abraham it meant not having a heir for years but then a son is born.  This is the earthly mess that created was used to bring about a covenant from heaven.  For Jacob it meant competition and struggles with his relatives; his brother and uncle.  This is the earthly mess that established the 12 tribes of Israel.  For David it meant successes in battle but failures in family life.  This the earthly mess that brought us the line that would produce the King of kings who came down from heaven.  For Isaiah it meant having a message but it being misunderstood.  This is the earthly mess that foretold of the one who would come as a suffering servant.  For the Pilgrims it meant struggling to survive in harsh condition with many dying.  This is the earthly mess that brought about a people of faith.  For myself it means many misguided steps on my part brought about failed attempts at lifelong goals.  This is the earthly mess that has been a school of spiritual growth I could never have anticipated.  God is guiding all these things that seem to be bad from an earthly point of view, but they bring about heavenly treasure. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Prayer Before Competition

War is terrible and glorious. War shows the depravity of mankind. War shows the heroic valor of particular individuals. War should never happen, but we simulate it through our sports games every day. We want the heroism without the horrors. We want the heroism without the necessity of sacrificing life. War can never solve the problems of the heart. We hardly every trace the root of a war in the human heart, but that is where it begins. The cause of war is the human heart.

Sports are a story of the human heart also. There is athletic achievement which is the fruit of training of body and mind. There is the binding of human hearts to one another during training and competition. There is the weighing of one's character and abilities in the courts of the game. The winners and losers know more about themselves and their opponents in the end. Even if one possesses the ecstasy of a win , the opponents made the winner try harder and do more than ever imagined. The athlete does not compete for herself alone, but for her social group. The dignity of the group is at stake when the representative walks onto the field. Whether the athlete represents a school, city, region or nation, the few act on behalf of the many. If that representative fails but has competed with valor and prowess, heads are held up but looking for next time. If the competitor has failed to represent himself or the group with a worthy display, heads are held low. A win results in heads held high. A win is ecstasy for the many, not just the few. The loss is a point of self examination for all.

War is a story of the human heart. That is why we pray.