Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
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Pawn Tickets

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December 29:

Call:    Hebrews 2: 10-13
Text:    Isaiah 63: 7-9
Prayer:  W&S # 8

            Pawn Tickets

As we close the year 2013,
I would like to express my disagreement
with Jimmy Dugan.

You remember Jimmy, don't you.

He was the manager of the Rockford Peaches.
   Of the All American Girls Baseball League
   In the movie, "A League of Their Own"

That movie came out in 1992 - some 21 years ago -
and is best remembered for two things:
   Geena Davis doing a split while catching a foul ball
      A picture that ended up on the cover of LIFE magazine
(played by Tom Hanks before he became Walt Disney)
memorably declaring to a weeping female player,
   "There is no crying in baseball."

[A quote, which I should note, was, a few years ago,
   determined by the American Film Institute
   to be the 54th greatest movie quote ever.]

But no matter how good AFI thinks it was as a quote
It is still a quote to which I take exception.
And on Thursday evening
as my family and I watched a different baseball movie,
I found/provided additional evidence that Dugan was wrong.

The movie we watched was "42"
   About Jackie Robinson breaking the MLB color barrier

I have been well familiar with Robinson and his story for years
I have a large library of books about Robinson
and his Brooklyn Dodger teammates;
And I have Robinson's picture
hanging in my study at the parsonage
along side those of many of his teammates.

To top things off,
   I saw this movie in the theater
      When it was released earlier this year

But despite my long time familiarity with the story,
And despite seeing the movie only a few months ago,
   My eyes welled up with tears
      Not once, not twice, but three times during that movie

They got moist
   When Eddie Stanky, the Dodger second baseman
Confronted the opposing manager Ben Chapman
   Over Chapman's verbal abuse of his black teammate
      In Stanky's home town of Philadelphia

They got moist
   When all his teammates - many of whom had not wanted to play with a black man and even threatened to
      Got into a brawl with Cardinal players
      After one of them spiked Robinson at first base.

And they got moist at a moment about which I have read dozens of times
   The time Pee Wee Reese
   Quieted a jeering crowd in Cincinnati across the river from Reese's home in Kentucky
      By standing in full view of everyone
      With his arm around Jackie.

For me, there is and always will be - and should be -
crying - or at least the welling up of tears -
in baseball and in the rest of life
   Not so much over the negatives - like losing a game
   But for the positives
like heartfelt moments of good, justice, and decency
like moments of triumph and joy for deserving people.

Those moments are not limited to baseball.
They occur throughout all aspects of life.

I am moved and tears often come to my eyes
   When I see things go well for people

This week, my eyes became moist
   When I was able to announce Christmas Eve
      That the problems that had held up
Debby Nikkari's transplant surgery
   Had been dealt with
And that she was to have her surgery on Friday.

Knowing, that she had such a great need
and that the process had had so many ups and downs
I was truly moved that, at last, it was going to take place.

And I can tell you
   That I was not ashamed of the tears in my eyes.
In a joyous holiday season
   Only one moment could equal that one
And that was reading on Friday night
   That the surgery had gone well
      For both her and her donor.

And speaking of her donor
   Her willingness to give up one of her own kidneys
      To make her friend well again
   Inspires me
      What a remarkable sacrifice to have made for another!

Just thinking about it moistens my eyes.

And in all these moist eye moments
   I have paused and given thanks to our God.

I mention moist eyes because I think that both
the scripture from Hebrews with which we opened
and   the scripture from Isaiah which we will hear in a moment
are - or should be seen - as joyous tearjerkers as well

Stop and think about
   Who we are
And   who Christ is.

And yet despite our clear inferiority, we hear the author say,
   "For this reason (that is because we have one father)
Jesus is not ashamed to call them (that is us) brothers and sisters."

Do you get that?

Jesus, who is so much greater than we are
   Is not ashamed to call us his brothers and his sisters
      Despite our faults and failures.
To appreciate this, we need only ask ourselves, whether
   There is anyone whom we are ashamed to call
      "brother" or "sister"

Is there anyone we are ashamed to call brother or sister
   At our work?   or in our neighborhood?
Is there anyone we are ashamed to call brother or sister
   In our family  or in our church?
Is there anyone we are ashamed to call brother or sister
   In our present or in our past?

If we are honest with ourselves
   Most of us will have to admit that there have been people
      That we would be embarrassed to call
         "brother" or "sister?"

and yet Jesus - The Christ -  is not embarrassed to use those words
   to describe our relationship to him.

Can we comprehend that
without feeling tears come to our eyes?

And then we turn to Isaiah,
   The prophet who guided us
through Advent
      To the birth of "our brother."

In this passage from chapter 63 (verses 7-9)
   We should again be moved to tears.

Isaiah say, "Because of all that the Lord has done for us"
And I ask   "How can we not be
   Amazed   Astonished   Awed and moved to tears
By what God has done for us?
   Repressing our tears would be an act of denial.
How can our eyes not be moist?

For, as Isaiah pointed out
   God has shown us undeserved mercy and steadfast love
And   God has called us God's people

Isaiah says that God became [our] savior

That is God
not a messenger;     not an angel
But God
Who by his presence and by his love
      saved us and redeemed us.

In the person of Jesus Christ
   God went to the broker of sin
      Where we had pawned ourselves
   And redeemed our pawn tickets
      With his love, his presence, and his life.

That is why we celebrate the birth of Christ
   A birth that marks the beginning
of God collecting our pawn tickets
as Jesus went from the manger to the cross to redeem them

As we reflect on Christmas,      we need to think about that
   And I don't think we can do so -    Without tears flowing

Instead of picturing Jackie and Pee Wee
     We need to start picturing ourselves and our unashamed brother
      Standing before the world
      With our arms around each other.
         And tears flowing from our eyes.

That would be a Christmas celebration.