Showing Up

Showing Up
Detours in Life
Pentecost #81-89
Mega Post #3

In my last blog post I quoted Corrie Ten Bloom: “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” Prayer is often synonymous in today’s world with faith. Today’s battle cry of “Take a Stand” and “Take a Knee” is all about showing one’s beliefs and/or patriotism or the lack thereof. Everyone from the NFL’s youngest fan to the President of the United States has an opinion. Everyone, it would seem, firmly believes in freedom of expression… as long as the person expressing is saying or doing what the listener/observer believes in.

I was not around during World War II but a Caucasian Christian had to think they were relatively safe from the witch hunt that the Nazis were conducting in rounding up people of the Jewish faith and sending them to concentration camps for eventual extinction. And before I go any further, let’s address the issue of “Did it really happen?” Yes and the hundreds of thousands who died and are buried are the proof that it did. Six million of the Jewish faith from all ages and walks of life were killed for nothing more than believing. Germany became a killing ground as did the countries invaded by Adolf Hitler. He had promised to make Germany great. Instead it made it a graveyard.

Corrie Ten Bloom was something of a superstar in her chosen field. She was the first woman in the Netherlands to become a licensed watchmaker. Corrie also ran a club for young girls which provided them an opportunity to learn and expand their lives. She believed in these young women and in a bright future for them all. Such actions were considered dangerous by Hitler and when he invaded the Netherlands in 1940 he instituted restrictions that banned Corrie’s club for these girls.

Because of her Christian faith, Corrie and her family helped their neighbors who had been targeted by the Nazis and were in fear of being sent to concentration camps. As father stood up for his faith, different from those he was helping, by stating: “In this household, God’s people are always welcome.” Word of their actions eventually reached the Nazi authorities and Corrie Ten Bloom and her family were arrested. Her sister and father both died in the concentration camps. Corrie Ten Bloom spent time in two such camps over a span of eleven months. On New Year’s Eve 1944 she was released due to clerical error. The following week everyone in her age group in the unit in the Ravensbrück concentration camp was sent to the gas chambers.

Corrie Ten Bloom returned home and continued to help the disenfranchised, particularly the mentally disabled. She established with her remaining family members a rehabilitation center in Bloemendaal. The refugee houses consisted of concentration-camp survivors and sheltered the jobless Dutch who previously collaborated with Germans during the Occupation exclusively until 1950, when they accepted anyone in need of care. She returned to Germany in 1946, and met with and forgave two Germans who had been employed at Ravensbruck, one of whom was particularly cruel to her sister.

Corrie Ten Bloom lived her faith, standing up for what she believed and showing up by living it, even when the going got impossibly rough and life-threatening. You might say her faith created the detour her life took by being sent to a concentration camp but really, isn’t that what faith and our beliefs do at times? Life is not all about smooth sailing. Any sailor will tell you that the most exciting times out on the water are not those where everything is calm and bland.

The recent furor over whether one stands or kneels during the playing of the National Anthem is not just about one song. It has become a battle cry to respect those veterans who defend our nation’s ideals every day. But is that really the only way to show such respect?

I would suggest that perhaps we should use our faith as our own personal steering wheel and follow in example of Corrie Ten Bloom. Faith should not be something we pull out only when we get in a tough situation or are scared. Neither should patriotism. Both faith and patriotism should be active parts of our living each and every hour of every day. They should be as evident and visible as the noses on our faces.

I would suggest that we should be respectful and attentive during the playing of the National Anthem of our own and any country. I do think we should take it a step further, though. Because this has become such an issue involving our veterans, let take it all the way. I’d like to see people continue to support the NFL so that the NFL can support our veterans. Let each team donate fifty tickets to Wounded Warriors, injured and disabled veterans that could then attend the game. I would like to see those Wounded Warriors who bravely lived their patriotism escorted to the sidelines for the playing of the National Anthem by team players with all present on the sidelines for the flag and anthem.

To be sure, some of those Wounded Warriors will not be able to stand but certainly no one can doubt their patriotism. Let’s stop the shouting and start taking real action. Let’s show up for what we profess to believe in and take a stand… or a knee… or a wheelchair to honor the true heroes of the game of life.

 

 

 

The Game of Life

The Real Sunday Game
Epiphany 27

Football, Faith, and Fortune

A teacher once told her children that they could use profanity, just as long as they wrote an essay about the word or words before using it. “You should know your vocabulary,” she stated. “Write about the word’s etymology or history, where it came from, and why it is considered to be profane.” Needless to say, her children waited until they had their own abodes before expanding their language skills to include cursing.

Eighteen years later, the same teacher, now retired, was watching a television movie with one of her children when a cell phone advertisement appeared. “That is so silly,” remarked the child. “Why?” queried the mother. “James Earl Jones has a voice like black velvet or maybe rich ebony silk. Malcolm McDowell could read the menu at McDonald’s and make it sound like Shakespeare. I loved it.” “Were you listening?” continued the child. “They were talking like teenagers!” The mother had to admit she really was too enthralled with the actors to even notice what company they were representing.

A few weeks passed and again the two were watching a program on television. Suddenly the same advertisement appeared and this time the mother paid strict attention. “Oh, how cute!” she exclaimed. “Rather like a modern-day Dr Seuss. Totes McGrotes!” The child disdainfully glared at the mother and then offered a piece of cake. “Thank you, dear,” said the mother. “This is …Totes McGrotes!” She reached for another bite when the plate was snatched out of her hand. “You may not use that type of vocabulary, young lady,” admonished the child, “until you have written an essay on what it means, where it came from, and then maybe you will understand why it is so silly!”

The circle of life is complete! With the curiosity that characterizes most teachers, the parent did indeed study the new wordings. She learned that Totes McGrotes meant “totally the best”, also spelled McGoats, having originated in a 2009 movie starring Paul Rudd. Totes Adorbs was someone who was totally adorable and Totes Presh was used to describe something totally precious. A gossip Internet columnist claimed “amazeballs” to be his own but actually fashion blogger Spiridakis used it several years earlier as an updated form of pig-Latin.

This weekend we will witness why parents are urged to know what their children are saying and to what music they are listening and singing. On Super Bowl Sunday weekend advertisers will pay $150,000 per second to air promotions for their products. A thirty second spot for Super Bowl 2015 will cost over four million dollars. Such advertising costs prove that every second of airtime not only has value – $150,000 value – but can make an impact. Regardless of who wins the game, the take-away from this event should be the power of the spoken word. After all, no one pays over four million dollars to be ignored!

On any given Sunday approximately 450,000 sermons are given. They are not be promoting something to make your life easier or make you look better. They discuss living fuller, feeling better about one’s self, and discussing perhaps a revered deity who will always think you are “Totes McGrotes”, regardless of what you do.

If costing the same as a Super Bowl ad, those sermons, based upon a twenty minute homily, would value $180,000,000. That’s one hundred and eighty million dollars. Men and women have paid paid for the lessons in those sermons and the teachings of other faiths and spiritualities with their lives. Because they thought mankind was “Totes Presh”. Without having to run a single yard, these people score the ultimate winning goal for each of us, thereby making us “Totes Adorbs”, and exchanging their lives for ours. Amazeballs!

What if we listened to those 450,000 sermons as intently as we will those thirty-second advertisements? What if a person’s life of faith was as widely followed as the Super Bowl? What if each church or charity received an audience of the 164.1 million that watched Super Bowl XLVII in 2013? There are usually thirty minutes of advertisements during a regular Super Bowl. If we substituted those advertisements for a sermon and the churches got paid, the joint religious and charitable community would receive, based on the current pricing, $81,000,000,000,000 or eighty-one billion dollars. Of course, churches and soup kitchens are not prepared for a total audience of 164.1 million but perhaps for an annual budget of almost $81 billion, they could expand. If each church used their 180 million dollars for nine outreach opportunities and kept only one-tenth for their own operating costs, each would receive 18 million dollars. Imagine what good could be accomplished with that!

The second largest church in the United States of America is a Baptist church in Houston, Texas. With twenty-four thousand members, they have an annual operating budget of fifty-four million dollars. That translates to each member giving two thousand, two hundred and fifty dollars annually. Sounds like a lot but it is actually only five percent of the average income for a Houston, TX family. What if each person in Houston had an epiphany to donate five percent towards humanitarian or charitable causes?

Sundays usually find Americans attending their respective houses or temples of worship, some having attended Fridays and Saturdays, and then many will settle in to watch American football. The same is often true in other countries for other sporting events. A diverse group of people, most of who have immigrated from somewhere else at some point in time, united in the thrill of the game.

This evening our retired teacher will not begin embarrassing her adult children with her new-found vocabulary and religious organizations and humanitarian agencies will not be millions of dollars richer. While a winner will be declared in the match between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots and other soccer, polo, and sporting competitions, little will be done to encourage the continued interest of the world on one subject – peace and basic human rights for all. People will return to their daily habits and forget that, for a few moments in time, we could be united peacefully even while on opposing teams.

The millions spent on advertising for the Forty-Ninth Super Bowl most likely will not be matched with contributions to either religious organizations or charity. Still, the super sacrifices and game-winning plays of the faithful, those selfless individuals who think each of us is “Totes Presh”, totally precious now and forever more, are priceless. The average person under the age of sixty-five spends more than the five percent mentioned above in dining out and alcohol. What if we all had a bright idea to give that five percent to charitable agencies and outreach missions? By recognizing the epiphany of our connectedness and the interdependence of mankind and nature and devoting both our resources and personal energies, we just might win the biggest game of all – life. Amazeballs!

Pentecost 35

Pentecost 35
My Psalm 35

A Winning Moment!

A teacher once told her children that they could use profanity, just as long as they wrote an essay about the word or words before using it. “You should know your vocabulary,” she stated. “Write about the word’s etymology or history, where it came from, and why it is considered to be profane.” Needless to say, her children waited until they had their own abodes before expanding their language skills to include cursing.

Eighteen years later, the same teacher, now retired, was watching a television movie with one of her children when a cell phone advertisement appeared. “That is so silly,” remarked the child. “Why?” queried the mother. “James Earl Jones has a voice like black velvet or maybe rich ebony silk. Malcolm McDowell could read the menu at McDonald’s and make it sound like Shakespeare. I loved it.” “Were you listening?” continued the child. “They were talking like teenagers!” The mother had to admit she really was too enthralled with the actors to even notice what company they were representing.

A few weeks passed and again the two were watching a program on television. Suddenly the same advertisement appeared and this time the mother paid strict attention. “Oh, how cute!” she exclaimed. “Rather like a modern-day Dr Seuss. Totes McGrotes!” The child disdainfully glared at the mother and then offered a piece of cake. “Thank you, dear,” said the mother. “This is …Totes McGrotes!” She reached for another bite when the plate was snatched out of her hand. “You may not use that type of vocabulary, young lady,” admonished the child, “until you have written an essay on what it means, where it came from, and then maybe you will understand why it is so silly!”

The circle of life is complete! With the curiosity that characterizes most teachers, the parent did indeed study the new wordings. She learned that Totes McGrotes meant “totally the best”, also spelled McGoats, having originated in a 2009 movie starring Paul Rudd. Totes Adorbs was someone who was totally adorable and Totes Presh was used to describe something totally precious. A gossip Internet columnist claimed “amazeballs” to be his own but actually fashion blogger Spiridakis used it several years earlier as an updated form of pig-Latin.

This weekend we will witness why parents are urged to know what their children are saying and to what music they are listening and singing. On Super Bowl Sunday weekend advertisers paid $133,333.333 per second to air promotions for their products. A thirty second spot for Super Bowl 2014 cost at least four million dollars. Such advertising costs prove that every second of airtime not only has value – $133,333.333 value – but can make an impact. After all, no one pays four million dollars to be ignored.
On any given Sunday approximately 450,000 sermons are given. They are not be promoting something to make your life easier or make you look better. They discuss living fuller, feeling better about yourself, the sacrifice of One who always thinks you are Totes McGrotes, regardless of what you do.

If costing the same as a Super Bowl ad, those sermons, based upon a twenty minute homily, would value $159,999,999.60. One man paid for the lessons in those sermons with his life. Because he thought we were Totes Presh. Without having to run a single yard, this one man scored the ultimate winning goal for each of us, thereby making us Totes Adorbs, and exchanging his life for ours. Amazeballs!

What if we listened to those 450,000 sermons as intently as we will those thirty-second advertisements? What if a person’s life of faith was as widely followed as the World Cup games? What if each church received an audience of the 164.1 million that watched Super Bowl XLVII in 2013? There are usually thirty minutes of advertisements during a regular Super Bowl. If we substituted those advertisements for a sermon and the churches got paid, each church would receive, based on the current pricing, $239,999,999.40. Of course, churches are not prepared for a total audience of 164.1 million but perhaps for an annual budget of almost $240 million, they could expand.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup advertising costs less and is primarily based upon the country and the viewers for the ads. Roughly it comes out to be one-third the cost of a Super Bowl commercial, although the audience is greatly enlarged. Still, with an increased audience and less revenue, I think they would be able to do a good job of spreading the gospel, even for a reduced budget of $80 million dollars.

The second largest church in the USA is a Baptist church in Houston, Texas. With twenty-four thousand members, they have an annual operating budget of fifty-four million dollars. That translates to each member giving two thousand, two hundred and fifty dollars annually. Sounds like a lot but it is actually only five percent of the average income for a Houston, TX family.

Sundays find Americans hesitantly venturing out, much like Punxsutawney Phil, to our respective houses of worship and give the lessons presented bored shrugs worthy of any “Valley Girl” whose language the cell phone commercial attempts to emulate. More eagerly, many will return home to catch the latest baseball game or perhaps the final match of the 2014 World Cup. Ten million Americans have watched the World Cup this year than usually watch major league baseball or professional basketball.

Tomorrow, our retired teacher will not begin embarrassing her adult children with her new-found vocabulary and American churches will not be millions of dollars richer. While a winner will be declared in the match between Germany and Argentina, little will be done to encourage the continued interest of the world on one subject – perhaps peace instead of sports? People will return home and to their daily habits and forget that, for a few moments in time, we could be united peacefully while on opposing teams.

Yet, what will remain priceless will be the super sacrifice and game-winning play of one man, Jesus Christ, who thought each of us was Totes Presh, totally precious now and forever more. With Him, by Him, and through Him, we get to win the biggest game of all – life. Amazeballs!

My Psalm 35

Help me, O God.
You know my battles.
You know the challenges.

Deliver me from my enemies.
Deliver me from the hurdles in life.
Deliver me from myself.

You were there when they mocked me, O Lord.
You heard their insults and lies.
You saw my pain and felt my tears.

Raise me up, O Great One.
Give me strength to forge ahead.
Strengthen my will and give meaning to my steps.

Your love is my guide, O God.
Your hands uphold me forever.
Your love surrounds me and heals.

I ask your protection, dear Father.
I live for your grace.
I receive your mercy and give thanks.