Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sometimes, Winning Happens Later On

   Brief remarks about the Atlanta Braves on Sunday were acknowledged by nearly everyone in worship that hour. Further proof that the Braves remain America's team and their progress is followed by a majority of folks around these parts, whether they are winning or losing. In the past month, they were mostly doing the latter.
   The Braves missed the National League playoffs last week after leading the wild-card race by 8 1/2 games on September 5. The blame is spread everywhere from pitching and hitting to injuries and even a hurricane in late-August. Read more here in the AJC. For what it is worth, I saw lots of hope for the future. I saw a wealth of young talent, called up from the minor league teams, take the field and contribute right away. I am thinking about Constanza, Minor, Vavarro, Teheran, and Vizcaino. They all contributed, not to mention the daily efforts of Freeman and Kimbrel, both rookies this past year. If you can get past the recent bad news, the future can be seen with great optimism.
   I think another reason we can relate to the recent woes of the Braves is that their struggles sometimes mirror our own. We have been the ones who have dropped the ball and struck out. We have gotten it wrong, and even looked ugly doing it. Despite all of that, we desperately cling to hope in the future.
   The scriptures tell of just such a story happening in the early church: it is the story of John Mark. A companion of Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, John Mark left the trip before it was completed. This past action was the cause of a split between Paul and Barnabas when they began making plans about a second trip, for Paul was adamant that the young man would not accompany them (Acts 15). Yet, despite his failings of the past, this young disciple would later become one of Paul's trusted aides in winning souls and cities for the kingdom (2 Timothy 4), to say nothing of the fact that he would author the first-ever written account of Jesus' life that we know as the Gospel of Mark.
   Sometimes, failures are the reality and the wins come too far in between. Sometimes the future seems far off. Other times, if would just allow ourselves the courage to hope with a vision for what will be, the truth is that what is coming is greater than we could imagine. Let it be...for our lives and for our church's relationship to our community (and for our Braves, too!).

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