Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cubbies Never Win: A Sad Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a man named Cubby who had a wonderful outlook on life. Every day he would awaken like it was a National holiday and grin like he just received straight A’s on a report card. He’d take a deep breath, pretending to be in the Rockies, as he listened to the birds singing their morning songs. The Cardinals, Orioles and Blue Jays’ squawks and tweets were like music in his ears. Even better, he planned to marry his little Philly, a girl named “Angel” in a seaside wedding. The honeymoon was to be on a Mariner’s boat where they had hopes of great adventures and catching a Giant Marlin or a Tiger shark and then living happily ever after.

  “Even if I was from a Royal family my life could not be more splendid. To be any happier, I’d have to be Twins!” he thought to himself.

The wedding day finally arrived and the warm Rays of the sun were breaking through the clouds. Like every other day, Cubby thought all was wonderful. But in his excitement and unbeknownst to him, he put on one White Sox and one Red Sox. Wearing his mismatched footwear, he made his way to the beach whistling Yankee Doodle Dandy the whole way.

Immediately, when Angel saw her potential groom and his multicolored stocking feet, her face turned Red and she stormed off the beach as if Astro particles were falling from the sky.

Padre,” Cubby said to the minister, “Arrgg! What happened? Even though I said, 'Arrgg!' I’m no Pirate. And even though I am wearing mismatched socks, I have not been frequenting the various Brewers in my town. I'm just an unlucky guy― maybe I'm cursed."

“Be Brave as an Indian,” the minister encouraged, “I can get your Diamondback.”

“I don’t care about the stinking ring. I'm no Lone Ranger—I need Angel,” Cubby shouted as he chased after her.

After a long race, Cubby finally Met up with Angel and said, “Why did you run away?”

“Oh Cubby,” she answered, “When I saw your mismatched socks I realized how cold my feet were and I fled. I’m not sure I’m ready to be married.”

“I’ll wait for you,” said Cubby with a smile. “Even if it takes 104 years or even longer I will wait and when you are ready we’ll get married and go on a boat and catch a big fish on our honey moon.”

“Roger Dodger!” Angel said and she gave him a hug and walked away.

Cubby never saw Angel again.

The moral of the story is either:
The Cubbies always lose in the end, or
Don't get married if you have cold feet, or
Don’t wear mismatched or matching socks on the beach, or
A pastor should never attempt to write a story using all 30 Major League baseball teams― or he will end with a very goofy fairy tale with no spiritual point whatsoever.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father and Son Father's Day Sermon

I’m a little nervous about this Sunday’s sermon. The jitters are not because of an outlandish preaching experiment that could possibly offend someone. The problem is not an extremely difficult to explain Biblical passage (It’s Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child…”). As far as I know there is not going to be a celebrity in the crowd that would make me antsy (Both Barry Manilow and Alice Cooper will be in Kansas City this weekend. While it is unlikely, I suppose one of them could slip into the early service. But even if they do, I don’t think Pastor Kevin will do a tribute of either Alice Cooper’s “School’s out” or Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana.”). So those guys are not why I’m jumpy. I’m nervous because this Sunday my son, Ben, will help me preach the Father’s Day sermon. This will be his first ever sermon. Ever. I remember my first sermon. It was on a Sunday night in Alanson, Michigan following my sophomore year of college. I hand wrote the sermon manuscript in a blue spiral notebook. My text was from 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. In that passage Paul encouraged the believers to run in such a way to win the prize. I think I chose that passage because I knew more about sports than the Bible and that was the only sports reference that I could find in the Bible (not counting the classic biblical baseball text of Genesis 1:1, “in the big inning…”). My sermon on that night will not go in the annals of Christian history as one of the greatest sermons of all time. I preached that sermon in the summer of 1983. 29 years ago this month. And I still remember it. The good, bad and ugly—I remember it all (there was more bad and ugly than good, in case there was any doubt). Ben will always remember this Sunday. I don’t think I will forget it either. My concern is not that he perfectly articulates each point. I won't be worried if he happens to stumble through a few words (my goodness I have preached over 2,000 sermons now and if you've sat through any of those 2,000 "gems" then you know I can butcher the English language with the worst of them). Here's my prayer-- that Ben will faithfully proclaim the Word of God. I don’t care if he botches the pronunciation of “Nebuchadnezzar,” but I do care that he always is faithful. I hope that he preaches 'full of grace and truth" in a manner worthy of Christ. For our family, this Father's Day will be one we won't forget. My prayer is that God uses both Ben and I and that those listening will long remember the morning not because of what was said by a preacher and his son-- but because of what God does deep in their heart. See you Sunday-- but please leave your rotten vegetables at home-- just in case it doesn't go well I don't want to have to dodge a flying tomato.