These are my thoughts for the 6th Sunday of Easter, 29 May 2011. The Scriptures for this Sunday were Acts 17: 22 – 31, 1 Peter 3: 13 – 22, and John 14: 15 – 21. This is also Memorial Day weekend and I will try to have something on that sometime this weekend.
As the title states, I am traveling this weekend, though not to a preaching assignment. Rather, with this being the 4th weekend in May, I am going to the U. S. B. C. Open. The tournament this year is again in Reno and this will be my 34th consecutive tournament.
My tournament participation history has been in several stages. I bowled in my first tournament in St. Louis way back in 1979 as a substitute. I was supposed to have bowled in the 1978 tournament in Oklahoma City but circumstances forced me to drop out. In the parlance of auto racing, “I lost my ride.” I regained my spot for the 1980 tournament in Tampa Bay and got my own spot for the 1981 tournament in Memphis.
Those early tournaments were always near the beginning of the tournament but we had the option to move to a later date and that is how we came to bowl the fourth weekend in May now. I use we when I speak of bowling because this is first, and foremost, a team event. Since 1981 I have bowled with Sam Howell and since 1982 Ken Baker has been a part of the team. This will be Sam’s 32nd tournament and Ken’s 28th. This year, I have four teams and we have a combined average of 9 tournaments per bowler.
As seasons go, this was not a good season. I struggled for most of the season as my swing mechanics went to pieces. But, with the help of Barry Winter, I got things back together. I turned things around at the end of the season and hope that this carries over into this weekend.
Now, what does this all have to do with church and my normally blogs? Well, as I pointed out in “Bowling and the Church” there is a relationship between connection between bowling and the church. But the connection between bowling and the church, at least this year, is more related to something I said last week in “Did I Miss Something?”
If nothing else, our lives are a journey, a travel down roads most often known but sometimes unknown. There are times when something distracts or pulls us away from the road we are supposed to be on. And when that happens, we need to have some support. Sometimes it is just being with friends whom you see each year (this year I renewed a friendship with Steve Weimer that has been almost as long as my friendship with Ken and Sam). Sometimes it is getting with your coach to work on the problems in one’s game.
But there are times when we have to move beyond our friends and those who can help us with the physical life. Sometimes we have to go beyond the physical world. What do we do when our lives are out of kilter or things just don’t seem right? In a world where the emphasis has been on the physical world and the spiritual world has been pushed aside or completely forgotten, what do you do?
And we hear Paul’s words to the Athenians about a monument to an unknown god. It made sense for the Athenians to have this “unknown” god. They had a god for practically everything else that was important in their life so it made sense to have an auxiliary god to handle the little things or things that no one thought of that might occur.
That’s what we do. We have moved God over into the “if-needed” category, trusting in our resources or physical things to supply the answers when the questions get to tough. The problem is that when we get lost, we have lost our bearings it becomes very difficult to remember where we put God.
But Paul was quick to point out that God isn’t over in the country but out in the world, if we were but to look for Him. But to see God in this way requires a radical change, a radical re-visioning of one’s life. This is something that we are sometimes not willing to do; other times we are incapable of doing it. It is not that we cannot do it but that we are so tied to the world around us that we cannot see the world as it is supposed to be.
How do you radically change your life? Two thousand years ago, Jesus began a walk. Along the way, as He walked down the road that would ultimately lead to the Cross, He stopped and asked twelve individuals to stop what they are doing and go with Him. Fisherman, farmers, a tax collector, revolutionaries and even a scholar each said yes and began the walk. And as this journey progressed others not named began to follow. How is this not an example of a radical change, to give up all that you had and begin a walk with no idea of where it may end?
The disciples and perhaps many of the others who were part of the journey had to have second thoughts about this journey when they gathered together in the days following the Resurrection. And at that moment of doubt and indecision, when each person wondered where the road would lead them, Jesus offered an assurance that He would be there and that He was sending the Holy Spirit to empower them.
This road we walk is not an easy one. Peter makes it very clear in his letter that we are more than likely to encounter difficulties than we are to encounter success. But that doesn’t mean that we should give it up. If Jesus had given up before he finished the journey, where would that have left us?
I will be honest. The journey that I have been on these past few years hasn’t been an easy one. It has been extremely frustrating but it has also been just as a rewarding. It has been frustrating developing a ministry that has not always been easily accepted. For some, the journey will end because of a lack of support. Perhaps we should end the ministry that we have been developing. But if we do stop our ministry, then a group of individuals will go without breakfast and they will see the local church as just another institution that cares only for the ones who are inside and not for the ones on the street.
We have been fortunate in that we do get some support and there are indications that others will get involved. All we can do is continue to show people that Jesus Christ is found on the road of life and not just inside a church sitting over in a corner somewhere to be pulled out in the case of an emergency.
So we continue the journey, going out onto the road, finding Christ and being the image of Christ in the world. What we know is that we will find Christ in the world and others will see in us that Christ is not hiding. So let us return to the road again.
Other pieces where bowling is a part of the blog:
- “The Chemistry of Bowling: A Short History of Bowling Balls, Lanes, Coatings, and Conditioners” – posted on July 26, 2008, this is the 2nd most read blog.
- “Bowling Balls and Bowling Bags” – posted on December 12, 2008, this was a sermon I gave at Tompkins Corners UMC on December 15, 2002.
- “The Curriculum in Science Today and Tomorrow” – posted on September 10, 2009, I used bowling to illustrate how a curriculum can be developed.
“Back to the Fundamentals” – posted on February 16, 2008.
There are others where I allude to my bowling in the Open Tournament but only in passing.