A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Putting Sports in Perspective

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.
I am not a big fan of losing streaks....
particularly when they are sponsored by my teams.
Those who know me,
know I am a big fan of sports.
Most of my teams are usually successful,
perhaps that's why I am a fan.
Sometime last winter.
the losing streak started.
First my hockey team
which seemed destined for a championship
tanked in the playoffs,
to their arch rivals.
Then my baseball team,
which has been a loser for a gazillion years,
actually started winning.........
That is until July 4th,
and then they self destructed and plummeted to their usual spot in the basement.
That got me to the beloved football season.
My college team started the season ranked #1 in the country
During the season,
they were upset by 3 unranked teams,
scored 52 points in a game and lost,
lost to the crosstown rivals for the first time in forever,
lost the starting quarterback for the season to an injury,
lost to another arch rival at home,
thus sending the rival to the national championship game.
Then they proceeded to lose a bowl game
played out in the middle of nowhere
to a team with a losing record.
And then the team had a fight in the locker room after the game.
Good times.
At least there was pro football to soothe my sports soul.
Not so much......
The team got off to a slow start,
started to put it together midseason.
Then fell apart and crashed into the wall.
Didn't make the playoffs.
The team's arch rival
did just the opposite
and peaked at the end of the season
and won the Super Bowl.
Oh, during all of this, hockey then went on strike.
Just when I wanted to have a big pity party for myself,
I heard about Caltech.
It's full name is the California Institute of Technology,
Despite its small size, 31 Caltech alumni and faculty have won the Nobel Prize
and 66 have won the United States National Medal of Science or Technology.
There are 110 faculty members who have been elected to the National Academies .
In addition, numerous faculty members are associated with the Howard Hughs Medical Instituteas well as NASA.
Caltech managed $332 million in sponsored research and $1.77 billion for its endowment in 2011.
Caltech was ranked first in the 2012–2013 Times Higher Education World University Rankings
for the second year running, as well as ranking first in Engineering & Technology and Physical Sciences.
The phrase, "This isn't rocket science"
is never used on campus,
because it IS rocket science.
In their spare time,
the school manages NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
These kids aren't going to Caltech to be pro athletes.
This week, they were measuring the heat emanating from a nebula star in the constellation of Orion.
In their spare time, they were studying the expansion of the cosmos
from the South Pole.
On Super Bowl Sunday,
the school's baseball team
won for the first time in 228 games.
They came within days of going a decade without winning,
having last won on February 15, 2003.
Because it was a non-conference game,
their conference losing streak remains intact.
They haven't won a game in their conference since 1988,
a span of 463 games.
The team follows a rich school tradition of losing....
the men's basketball team accomplished a 310 game losing streak that ended in 2011
and the women's volleyball team staged a 56 match losing skid through last year.
On Sunday, while the nation was transfixed
on a football game in New Orleans,
the smart kids were winning a baseball game nobody else cared about
for the first time in ten years. 
Somehow my sports losses don't feel so bad anymore.
people are making new discoveries about our universe to help us better know how it functions.
people are creating art and music to bring beauty to our lives.
people are inventing things that will make our lives more comfortable.
What did I learn from Caltech baseball this weekend?
For every loss in life that is experienced,
there will also be the joy of a triumph.
One team fights out of frustration in the locker room, another goes out for pizza to celebrate a long awaited win.
On family gives a loved one back to God, another family experiences a birth.
One person's cancer is cured, another's marches on.
One parent's child survives the car crash, another's doesn't.
I'm sure the Caltech kids have come up with some
scientific formula that explains this principle.
But the One who created the cosmos, has already revealed this truth to us.
There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
The next time my team loses and I am sad,
I am going to remember that someone else
is equally feeling the joy of the win.
And there is a measure of joy for me in knowing that.
So how did the Caltech kids celebrate after the 228 game losing streak ended?
They went out for pizza.
As for me...I say congrats to the fans of my arch rival, the Super Bowl champs.
Oh yeah.....hockey is back! To every season!
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace

Ecclesiastes 2:1-8

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