Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Deflate this buddy!

Usually, I don’t pay a lot of attention to the weather, but this past week, it was almost, ALMOST, a relief to tune into the big storm that we got. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly am not rejoicing at the mountain of snow piled up outside my office window, but I am glad that this storm got us talking about something other than deflated footballs.
As a converted Pats fan (my loyalties continue to reside first with the Vikings) the constant talk about what happened with “Deflategate”, as it has come to be known, was losing my interest. What has been so nauseating to me through this debacle, is that the default position for many, in regards to Tom Brady and Bill Belichik, after they said they had nothing to do with the condition of the footballs, was that they were lying. Hearing many self-righteous pundits and former athletes take this default position was hard on the ears for two reasons.
First, it’s the fact that so many talking heads couldn’t fathom any explanation other than someone lying. Instead of really trying to get to all the possible reasons or scenarios for why the footballs didn’t have the proper PSI, so many have jumped to the conclusion they want, which also is the most negative towards someone else. The second reason it’s mind-numbing to listen to all the negativity, is the possibility that perhaps these naysayers are right, and that there is lying and cheating going on. If this is the case, how sad would it be if people like Tom and Bill would so aggressively lie about something so little.
Therefore, even though it took 2 feet of snow to do it, I’m happy that a little air has been taken out of the “Deflategate” story.
The 8th Commandment tells us that we shall not “bear false witness against our neighbor.” The simple explanation is that we shouldn’t lie about others. But a broader way to look at this commandment, following the lead of Martin Luther, is that we are to use our words to build up our neighbor(s), and that whenever we are speaking about someone else, to take the utmost care to convey them in a positive sense. We as Christians act with mercy and grace, not only by being forgiving, but in giving the benefit of the doubt to others, and seeking to put the best construction on their words and actions, not simply jump to the worst possible conclusions.
In the end, “Deflategate” is kind of fun, because it’s about a game, and even if there is something serious going on, these are not the things to waste our passion for justice on. At the same time, in our life together as the Body of Christ, using our speech and communications about each other is of the utmost importance. We are all different people with different perspectives and opinions, who also make mistakes and say the wrong things. The 8th Commandment is a gift to us from God, so that accusation and distrust don’t have to be a part of any big discussion, decision, or our general life together.
In the past months, we’ve been having some of these big discussions, and going through some big decisions. I’ve told more than one person that even as we go through these things, the tone of the congregation has generally been positive and helpful. As we go forward, we remember that life gives us many situations. Sometimes we get two feet of snow, and we work together, follow the rules, help each other out and make the best of it. Other times, a sports team achieves a great accomplishment, and every effort is made to minimize and detract from this. May we remember to let the life-giving Word of God, full of grace and love, be the words we share with each other, through all things! Go Pats!
In Christ,
Pr. Mark

P.S. I once was accused of a roommate for not acting very “Christian”, when I was saying unkind things about Brett Favre and the Packers while watching a game. I won’t defend my actions, I will only say that I am a sinner in need of the grace of God…especially when it comes to the Packers.

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