The Superbowl and God's
by HW in HI
- based on Matthew 5:1-12
Good morning! Today is Super Bowl Sunday.... Well, the Super Bowl doesnt start in
Hawaii until 1:18 in the afternoon, or about 5 hours from now.
Im not a big football fan, but Im married to one, so I know just a little
bit about it. I know that the game is in Miami. I know that Denver and Atlanta are
playing. And I know theres going to be a loser. In this world there are always
Winners and losers. In our country, were pretty big on winners. Winners are the
people that get elected, the people who get promotions, the students that get into
college, the people who drive the expensive cars, live in the fancy houses --- and the
guys who win the Superbowl.
Its hard to imagine a world without winners and losers. Some members of my
generation tried that for awhile. There were communes where people lived together, and all
their money went into one big pot. But they learned what the European settlers learned in
this country 300 years ago: somebody always gets greedy.
Theres a difference between winning and being greedy, isnt there? I want to
suggest today that there is a huge difference.
A young man wants to get married. Hes worked extremely hard in life and done
amazingly well financially. He chooses an exotic location. No problem, not really. Its
not exactly feeding the hungry, it may be a bit of conspicuous consumption, but its
not quite greedy, yet. He and his bride make many arrangements for the big day. And in
fact they reserve an entire island. (This may sound familiar.) They buy up all the
airplane tickets to that island. When a reporter manages to get on that island, they try
to get the local police to arrest him. Well, is the groom a winner or is he greedy?
My daughter gave me a book to read recently, its called Warriors Dont Cry,
by Melba Patillo Beals. Anyone know what its about? (The autobiography of a year in
the life of a woman who was one of the Little Rock Nine who integrated Central
High in 1957.) Melba wrote, this about day five of the school year, My days inside
Central High were now graded by the severity of the pain I endured. Two huge boys...had
begun a full-time mission of making my days miserable. Each morning they stood in front of
my homeroom door to greet me... Good morning, nigger arent yall
gonna talk some of that coon jab you speak? .... they followed me from class to
class, walking up close, stomping my heels and littering my trail with flying objects,
punches and degrading catcalls. She tells a story of understanding herself to have
been on Gods battlefield, a warrior for justice. The physical and emotional abuse
she and the other eight black students endured was unbelievable. In a very real sense,
they were winners in the end. But I would hardly say they were greedy!
Jesus emerged victorious from the cross, and no doubt he won. Still, there was nothing
greedy about it.
It is hard for Christians to go through life not trying to win. If you apply for a job
and you dont want to win, your family wont have a roof over their heads. There
seem to be a couple of things going on here how you go about winning, and what it
is youre after. Both the means and the ends.
Jesus was after our salvation, and he went about it gently but firmly. Melba Patillo
Beals just wanted an education, and she went after it politely but firmly. Our friend with
the dream wedding on a tropical island was after a fancy social affair, and so far as I
know, there wasnt even a touch of humility involved.
Thats a key word, humility. The thesaurus gives us a number of similar words:
meekness, demureness, modesty, lowlinessnot exactly American ideals. But thats
God, calling us to see things a little differently. Or maybe even a lot differently.
Todays Gospel from Matthew gives us the beatitudes. That name comes from the
Latin for blessed. Some people call them the be-attitudes as they point
us to a way of being.
Jesus said, Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Those
who have taken what they wanted in this life will have to sit back a bit in the next, and
enjoy watching those who were meek or timid take over.
Jesus said, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they
will be filled. Perhaps he was talking about people like Mrs. Beals who asked only
for a chance.
And, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Think of Jimmy Carter, pretty humble as ex-presidents go, scurrying around to meet with
warring parties, to bring them to the peace table.
And, Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. About four
years ago in Richmond California an angry six year old broke into a neighbors house
to steal toys, but wound up beating their baby. That baby has permanent irreversible brain
damage. The whole of Northern California was up in arms. The boy was taken from his mother
and put in lock up. Psychologists said he was beyond help. People wanted him locked up for
life. But the parents of that baby were Christians with a deep faith and they said, We
forgive him. We will not file charges. That is an example of extreme mercy. Blessed
are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are those who mourn. At one time or another, that includes just about all of
us. We will be comforted.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. Those who have no faith. Those whose spirits are
crushed. Those who dont know God. Blessed are all those we love and would like to
share God with, but for some reason or other, we just cant share God with them.
Well, they are blessed. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Where does this leave us with the Super Bowl, you ask? Good question. The beatitudes
are for them as well. At this point in time, some players are probably mourning someone
they love. Perhaps some players are feeling pretty meek. And they all want righteousness,
so long as it is on their side. Theyve worked hard to be succeed. One team will make
it and one will not. But the bottom line is, they will be blessed if they do Gods
will, no matter who wins.