Kneeling In The NFL

 

football player on bended knees
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

NFL Protesters

 

The meeting was private. In attendance were a dozen muscular, well known millionaires. Their focus? How to use their fame and status to make a point. From their perspective, the police in America were out of control, shooting innocent, unarmed black men and boys. What can they do with their combined wealth and influence to solve this tragic problem?

Ideas were tossed back and forth until one of the men said, “I will refuse to stand when they play the National Anthem. This will call attention to this messed up situation in our country.”

At first he was alone as he knelt and bowed his head at the next game. The reaction was immediate and varied. Some called it stupid and irresponsible. Some thought it was a good idea. Then, as is always the case, more men joined in and refused to stand for the National Anthem. Now we have their attention, they thought. Now things will change. Did they? Unfortunately, the incidence of black men and boys dying at the hands of the police did not cease or diminish.

And the refusal to stand? The NFL has now decreed there will be no further kneeling football players during the National Anthem. If they plan to kneel, they must stay in the locker room while the anthem is playing. Then they shall come onto the field.

So what have those millionaire athletes accomplished by thumbing their noses at the American tradition of standing during the National Anthem? Well one consequence is they forced the owners to make the recalcitrant kneelers wait it out in the locker room during the National Anthem. After all, who cares about the anthem recognizing our country and its rich history; The country that has allowed these players to become wealthy and famous from doing what they enjoy doing?

My question to these role models is this: If you are actually concerned about increased violence and shooting deaths of black men and boys by police officers, what might you do about finding a solution? You have fame and wealth, people listen to you and you can afford to support a group or study aimed at discovering a solution. Wouldn’t that be more worthwhile than kneeling during the National Anthem?

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This Is America

People walking in building

Not African-America

Not Hispanic-America

Not Asian-America

Not Norwegian-America

Nor any other ethnic prefix. America is the original Heinz 57, mutt, half-breed country, filled with people of all nationalities who’ve come to blend together, forming one nation, indivisible. This is a country filled with almost all nationalities . . . otherwise known as AMERICANS!

Are there injustices here? Are there prejudices here? Is there hypocrisy here? Of course there are. There are people here aren’t there?

The language of America is a version of British English, known as American, molded and fashioned over a few hundred years. But it is basically, English. We speak English in America. Do you wish to live in this country? Then I suggest you learn the language as all the immigrants who’ve landed on these shores legally have. If any American decides to live in Portugal, guess what language they had better learn?

I don’t have the answers to all our ethnic problems but I do know this: if America continues to fragment itself based on ethnic origin, we will eventually collapse as we divide and establish ethnic boundaries. Hate will fill our land. And violence will be the order of the day.

One more thing: America has one flag. The flag of the United States of America. The United States! Pools of blood have been shed to maintain our freedom in these United States. Blood from all manner of ethnic veins. The blood was shed first in 1776 just to form the United States. Not to form a shattered, broken, dis-unified bunch of groups unwilling to share the same language and goals. What about your rights? A better question asked of all of us by this country would be: What are your responsibilities?

Adam & Eve

Adam and Eve failed to give God glory when they introduced sin into the world, but God didn’t leave them without hope. God sent His Son, Jesus, to live as Adam didn’t—perfectly sinless. Jesus was God in the form of a man sent to rescue people from sin. Please click on the above link to watch an incredible animated version of the Garden of Eden story.

Words

 

The unrelenting sun scorched everything in the arid oilfields. The grizzled, rough-and-tumble men approached the lone speaker slowly, determined to stop his mouth permanently. A few feet away now, the solitary sentinel turned to face them, eyes penetrating, fire like.

“Boys?” he enquired.

“We come to show you your words ain’t enough to stand against us. We come to shut you up once and for all,” they said.

Squaring his slight shoulders and facing his threatening accusers directly, the slender young man opened his mouth, but the words were from another realm, “Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer with shatters a rock?”1

As though held by an unseen force, the men were frozen, mouths agape, eyes wide. They were silent.

He continued, “Long ago in many ways and at many times God’s prophets spoke his message to our ancestors. But now at last, God sent His Son to bring His message to us. God created the universe by His Son, and everything will someday belong to the Son. God’s Son has all the brightness of God’s own glory and is like Him in every way. By His own might word, He hold the universe together.”2

Without a word, the hardened, sunbaked men sank to their knees onto the superheated ground with their heads bowed, tears streaming down their crevassed faces.

Only God knows if this was the only time men were baptized from a canteen!

1. Jeremiah 23:39; 2. Hebrews 1:1-3

Today My Neighbor Died

My wife and I were in the living room of our third-floor apartment when she heard the low rumblings of an emergency vehicle in the drive. In a flash we were at the window. Who? How bad? Is there hope? “I think they’re headed for Glenn and Arlene’s place. I better be with Arlene.” She headed out. Seconds later, an ambulance arrived, pulled out a gurney and headed for the same apartment. Within fifteen minutes, the paramedics reappeared, guiding the gurney to their vehicle with Glenn wearing an oxygen mask, covered with a blanket, strapped to the gurney. He seemed out of it.

My wife helped Arlene into the ambulance and told her we would talk tomorrow. If she needed anything to call. Small, seemingly insignificant words perhaps but to Arlene, they were words of love and compassion if she remembers them at all. No calls that night. Arlene spent the night beside her husband, sleeping very little. At 77, that’s a sure-fire way to sap one’s strength.

The next morning our phone rang at 7:30. Arlene calling. “Please call my daughter and my niece. Glenn is in pain. They are giving him morphine. It seems to help. He’s not talking, just mumbling a bit. The doctor said they may have to prepare him for emergency surgery. His body is failing. Heart rate 60/40.

Last night, and since we awoke this morning, we’ve been praying for Glenn and Arlene. But what does one pray? God heal Glenn and make their lives good again? Really? So we pray, “God please reveal your perfect will for this couple. You know them and have a plan for them. We pray for the best possible outcome! In the name of Jesus we pray.” Although I believe in God and the efficacy of prayer I must admit to feelings of helplessness in times such as this. “God, I know you hear but I don’t know what you will do.” Glenn and Arlene trust God with the outcome. Actually, what else can you do at a time like this?

Leann makes the calls and we head-out for the hospital. Arriving we find Arlene alternately sobbing and looking confused. Who wouldn’t be? Is this it? Will he live or die? Can he understand me? Will he forgive me for that snippy remark I made last night? Will I forgive myself? God help me.

A young doctor attempts to describe Glenn’s condition and the possible surgical procedure. He fails. We are dumb. He knows and walks slowly away, wishing he was a better communicator. “Ok folks (four of us now, including the 53-year-old daughter), we’re moving Glenn and Sally will take you to the second floor waiting area. A doctor will be there shortly to explain everything.”

Time slowly passed as we talked aimlessly, trying humor which fell flat, remembrances which brought sadness and tears until a middle-aged doctor arrived to introduce himself. I got off the two person padded bench for him but he motioned for me to sit beside him. I think he wanted the contact. What he had to say was not easy but necessary. I felt his compassion and love. It was evident to see. I patted his back from time to time. He didn’t object.

Using wonderful, caring descriptions this man, this surgeon helped Arlene and her daughter understand that Glenn’s body would not recover. He was shutting down. Surgery would not be possible. Too much risk. Not much chance for satisfactory recovery. Finally he said, “Sometimes, when the body is shutting down, the heart reflects that change by slowing down accordingly until finally…it stops beating.” Tears filled his eyes. “Believe me I understand your feelings. Today I had to admit my 93-year-old mother and there’s not much chance she will return home.” Those tears overflowed from his eyes and streaked down his worn face. We all cried.

We were told to join Glenn around the corner in a cordoned off area where his bed had been situated. A wonderful, loving nurse softly explained what was happening and how important it was for us to talk and pray with Glenn. She found country music (his favorite) on her phone and set it near him as she gently caressed his face asking how he felt, making certain he was as comfortable as possible. “He knows you are here,” she told us. “It’s good if you talk to him and touch him. It will help you too.”

Shortly, Arlene asked us to leave and thanked us for all we did to help. “I will never forget what you’ve done,” she tearfully said. “Never! It meant everything to me.” Funny how much it meant to her. We did nothing unusual or admirable. Perhaps we were following the command of Jesus to “love your neighbor.” I hope so.

Arlene called within two hours. Glenn had passed from this life to the next. Now he was at peace and without pain.

The Road to Emmaus

emmaus_grt

CARVAGGIO: SUPPER AT EMMAUS (1601)


Luke 24:19-32  ~New Living Translation (NLT)


“What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.

“Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”