Saturday, April 18, 2020

Stand and Pray - Post Covid Sports Events

Post Covid-19.  After the virus, there will be changes put in place designed to deter the spread of viruses.  That's good. That's fine.

Now is also a time to modify one our great traditions.  The tradition of playing the national anthem before sporting events.  The tradition began during World War II when the anthem was played at NFL and Major League baseball games to support patriotism within the country.  The tradition continued after the war well into the 21st century.  We tend to get stuck in our traditions.

Forgotten was the point that sports was supposed to be a distraction from real life drama, including military conflicts.  In the 1968 Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised a fist during the medal ceremony while the national anthem was being played.  They were protesting racial inequality and racism in the United States.  For that act of protest they were banned from the Olympics and sent home. Their futures, what little there was for black men then, were ruined.

Some 45 plus years later, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, began taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem as a social protest against the mistreatment of black people in the United States.  As in 1968, politicians and others attempted to place Colin's actions as a form of disrespect against the military and those who fought and died in past and present wars.   It was a brilliant technique and distraction to cover the real reason for the social protest.  Of course many people fell for the distraction.  Colin was blackballed after the 2016 NFL season and no team has given him the opportunity to play in the NFL again.  Welcome to America Colin!

As we reflect  during Covid-19, we realize that it will be awhile before people will gather in arenas and stadiums to watch sporting events. During this pause, we have the opportunity to rethink the national anthem tradition.   Do we continue the current tradition?  Or do we use the moment to finally and publicly acknowledge that we were created by a God whose Grace has allowed many of us to survive a world wide pandemic and many more events in the past?

Before each sporting event, let's try this.  Play a soft quiet instrumental melody, devoid of human words. Invite the audience to "Stand and Pray".  Allow each person to stand in place and pray to God in his or her own way.  No one person leads the crowd in prayer.  This is personal.  Each person says or doesn't say what ever prayer they want.

What happens if players' don't stand and pray?  Nothing. They have that right not to pray.  Will they be blackballed out of their league?  What happens if someone in the audience doesn't stand?  Nothing.  They too have the right not to pray.

The first sporting event after Covid-19 would be a great time to start this practice.  Whether it's high school, college, or at the professional level.  Stand and Pray.  Raise your hands above your head and Stand and Pray.  Give thanks for surviving Covid-19.  Pray for those who did not survive Covid-19.  Pray for the families who lost loved ones due to Covid-19.  Pray for nursing homes in the future  being safe from such devastating events.  Pray for events not related to Covid-19.  Just Stand and Pray!

Covid-19 is a worldwide humbling event.  It got our attention, by force.  It  changed many of us, even if we were not infected.  It put our sports idols on the shelves.  It made many entertainers irrelevant.  Standing in line for over an hour for  a box of food can make you forget about that personality you idolized for years.  The social distancing brought some of us closer to God or introduced us to God for the first time.  Covid-19 gave us time together in our homes.  It separated some of us from loved ones in hospitals.  It made us appreciate whatever blessings we have in our lives. The virus was the means by which we were given the opportunity to reflect on our behavior and actions.

Lessons learned.  Now it's time to react.  At our sporting events Stand and Pray.  Even if the national anthem continues to be played.  Raise your arms, and Stand and Pray.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Lessons Learned and Revelations from Our Covid-19 Season

We are into the fourth month of the decade of the 2020s.  In the past there  have been many doom and gloom predictions regarding the future of mankind.  We are living through one of those scenarios.  Yes, it is a repeat scenario from past years.  Over 300 years ago, small pox and other diseases decimated the Native American population.  Within the United States,  there have been Spanish flu epidemics, typhoid fever and other pandemic situations.

Since we as people are more students of "The Now" we are not commonly aware of the repeat nature of such pandemics.  We do not remember the health scares of the early 1900s.  Within my own family are ancestors who died from the Spanish Flu and typhoid fever of the 1900s.

We also are a world where recognition of the existence of God and living the life God intended for us is not our priority.  Instead we live out our lives following the principles of what we think is a successful human life.  Many of those principles involve success based on accumulation of material things and how much wealth we are able to obtain.  In a 24 hour day, the average devotion to God (if we measured it among all people in the world) would likely be less than 2 hours out of 168 hours in a week.  Subtract 56 hours for 8 hours of sleep each week and we are left with 112 hours of our weekly time.  Two hours out of 112 hours to acknowledge, thank, pray, and reflect on our relationship with God.  That's about 1.7 per cent of our time devoted to God.

Yes, of course there are many exceptions.  Some people likely spend over 50% and some spend 0%.  Throughout our existence as people, we have been sent constant reminders of the need for us as people to get our lives together and focus on our relationship with God.  The goal being to continue with a life after human death.  There is more ahead of us if we decide to pursue it.  Human death is not the conclusion.

This virus season is another time out warning from God.  A reminder that God really is in control.  Our governmental institutions scramble around trying to find the " human solution" to Covid-19.  We don't realized the  "solution" will be given to mankind when God wants us to have it.  God wants us to each reflect on the conduct of our lives.  God wants us to turn towards him, not to the human idols we have constructed.  Our fascination with sports and athletes we have made our idols is one example.  Have you noticed that your life is fine without the distraction of professional sports and professional athletes?  Has any athlete developed a cure for Covid-19?  Remember that when this pandemic ends.  Remember that many professional athletes were tested for Covid-19 well before you were tested.

Maybe this season is a reminder that we as people are seriously at the breaking point of straying too far away from God.  In the past year many people  have memorialized  personalities who have tragically passed away such as athletes and social/entertainers more than have paid attention to God.  Our commercial television shows commonly feature and promote homosexual lifestyles never promoted or condoned by God as His plan for humanity.  As we stray away from God's plan, do not be surprised by events such as pandemics and other events to come.

Ask and you shall receive.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Covid 19 - What Have you learned?

What have you personally learned during this Covid-19 virus season?  What will change in your behavior after Covid-19?  What is your story?

We exit this world through death.  That departure might be in a dramatic fashion. Or it could be a quiet ending, anticipated over time.   We just don’t simply flip a switch and turn off our life. (Although some try through suicide).  We just don’t say, I choose to die at a specific, time, and place and then await that moment .  No, we die from accidents and illnesses, such as Covid-19.  

In the past months Covid-19 has taken away people we knew.  Covid ended their earthly journey. At the end we could not sit next to them.  We could not hold their hand.  We could not comfort them in their last moments.  We were physically distanced from each other.  We were all placed into our own social cocoons. Left in some cases to communicate via electronic means or through barriers.

Ask yourself, “How has this pandemic affected me?”  Did you connect spiritually with God?  Did your faith grow stronger?  If you did not connect spiritually, why not?

Prior to the onslaught of Covid -19, we chose to not begin the start of athletic contests, whether it be National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball games, etc. with a prayer.  Instead we opted in for everyone to stand and sing a “national anthem to our human greatness. When Covid ends will we now start sports events with a common prayer that we all can say?  Or will we continue the self-adulation expressed in our national anthems?  Will we stop worrying about individuals who choose to kneel in protest over social issues. Will we recognize that it isn’t about disrespecting the flag or those who fight wars to protect us from ourselves?  It’s about our continuing to not put God first in our lives.   It’s not about idolizing sports personalities and reacting with compassion and sorrow only when a sports celebrity dies unexpectedly.

After Covid will the news on television start with a prayer? Or will it once again go into the pre Covid dramatic headline “Breaking News”?

Will we return to the idolization of ourselves or will we be humbled and recognize more the existence of the God who Created us?

Will we return to being the self proclaimed greatest country on Earth? That same country that was unprepared to save the lives of those impacted by Covid-19?  The same country that could do nothing to save the lives of some 40,000 plus people?  The same country that was unable to place needed supplies and equipment in the precise places needed at the precise time?  That same country with a national government and leader who was unable to bring the country together in a united fight against a common nemesis?

Will we continue to not recognize God because we can not see God in a physical form, or hear him as clearly as we can hear a chirping bird?  Will we continue to not fear God because we can’t see God?  But, we fear the unseen enemy, Covid-19, to the point of constantly sanitizing and washing our hands.  We wear masks and other “PPE”.  We can’t see Covid-19 but we know it’s there.  Just as we know there is a God by looking at the sky, breathing in the air, watching the sun rise and set; watching the changes of Seasons; and knowing this God has provided for us to live every day.  It’s not wrong to acknowledge that those great ideas that people develop came from God.

Will this virus season wake you up to those realities?  Will you return to your sports idols?  Will you return to your life distractions and cheer loudly when in golf someone hits a small ball into a cup in the ground?  Will you shout with exuberance when a baseball player hits a baseball farther, catches a ball greater, or if a basketball player jumps higher and gyrates their body wildly while slamming a basketball through the net?  Will you return to idolizing those same players who were tested for Covid-19 well before there was a thought of testing you and your family?  Will your idols and personal interests still excite you more than acknowledging that there is a God and we all should worship God first?

If we return to our own humanistic habits than you/we have learned nothing from this virus season.