“Pinch Me, I’m Dreaming” January 1, 2023
“Pinch Me. I’m Dreaming”
Well. we made it: another trip around the sun. as they say. And even though I’ve always felt it was bad form to speak poorly of the year that has passed. I don’t believe I’ll be shedding a tear 12022 is in the books. I probably won’t be trusting any year that has this many 2’s in it ever again. Not all of us will look back at 2022 With the same fond memories Or with the same long list of accomplishments. Let’s just be glad that the good Lord saw fit to get us through another year in one piece.
So here we are, about to start the whole thing all over again. Hopefully there is enough hope and peace and joy and love left over from Christmas and Advent that we might do some good things with this new year after all.
Of course, the celebration Goes on With images of father time as a decrepit old geezer while the new year is shown as a baby in diapers. And have you noticed that no matter what kind of year it’s been, the little baby new year ages. I swear. at the speed of light.
there are many other traditions they keep the new year special: dropping the ball at Times Square and singing Auld Lang Syne once again are just a sampling. So, whether you’ve had too much to drink or had none at all, you can’t escape it. you can’t escape it because it draws you in, all the prospects of a new year with new opportunities and new partnerships: well it’s the kind of thing that tickles our hope bone.
but the tradition I would like to speak about today is football,
I’m speaking about American football, not the European version. I’m thinking football with the pointed ball and the yard lines and the goal posts….. you know, football. To be more specific, I’m thinking of the biggest event of all when it comes to football and that is of course The Super Bowl.
Now, I’m assuming that most everyone here is well versed in the history of this great event. And because you are very knowledgeable, Then I can also assume that you are aware that it was the Buffalo Bills who went to the Super bowl four times in a row – 4 consecutive years between 1991 in 1994- And in those four years, the Bills lost, (you guessed it) four times. It must have been one of the most heartbreaking series of all time But to their credit they bounced back and managed to stay viable. And who knows; maybe they’ll get another shot at it someday.
But we learned something from that tragic 4 year disaster, And I am speaking naturally about T-shirts.
you see, whenever a team goes to the Super bowl, The companies that manufacture specialized T-shirts get busy. They have no way of knowing Who Will Win this contest, and so they print up 10s of thousands of shirts for both teams claiming them to be the Champions. “They do with the shirts for the team that lost,” you might ask. “Do they just toss them in a landfill? Or maybe recycle them some way. What did they do?”
The answer to that question is, to me, one of the greatest lessons we could have learned from poor old Buffalo’s four years of failure. You see, they didn’t burn or Bury or destroy these thousands of colorful shirts. No, they sold them at cost and shipped them all over the world the third world countries where any kind of new clothing was a blessing.
but here’s the thing, and here’s the part that still makes me chuckle every time I even think about it. with 10s of thousands of these Shirts declaring Buffalo The Super bowl champions, you can bet there were a lot of young men, and women too, I imagine, who were wearing these shirts. in Malaysia, Indochina, West Africa, – they were everywhere.
but the real kicker comes from the fact that if you were to be walking the streets of South Sudan or Malawi or any number of places that received these charity shirts; and while you were strolling along you happened to spot a group of young men kicking a soccer ball around, let’s say. and to those young men, you happened to shout out, “Hey! who won the Super Bowl?” if you did that, I would place a good sized bet that at least one of them would perk up, put a big grin on his face, and shout back. “Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Bills.” it would happen every time.
Now I share this story first, because I thought it was hilarious, but I share it mostly because if we’re looking for a theme to grasp For this coming year, Being careful where we get our information might be a good one to consider.
Two of our readings today tell stories that could have went terribly wrong, but didn’t.
The first concerns the Magi, or the wise men, As we know them. You know these guys have always amazed me because they traveled a long way, and probably at great expense, to see if The prophecies of the Messiah might come to pass. It was a long shot. they knew full well that this might be a wasted trip, but they didn’t care.
I mean this was a big deal for them. Can you imagine how excited they must have been simply at the possibility. so when Herod asked if they would take him to the Christ child so that so that he could worship as well, I’m sure they thought it would be fine. Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to have the Roman authorities on your side
but here’s my point: the wise man we’re all set to find the Christ child, give him a bunch of gifts that they had brought, and yes, give this Herod dude a tip about the child’s location. What could possibly go wrong?
when the Lord came to the wise men in a dream telling them to protect the child’s location and sneak out of town, they could have decided to handle it on their own. they could have decided that may be God was off the mark here; they could have decided a lot of things, but what they did was listen and obey the word of the Lord.
Likewise, Joseph was in a similar predicament. I imagine that moving his new family to Egypt, of all places, didn’t sound like such a swell idea. But Joseph was told in the dream That they must do this, And in so doing he saved the life of the son of God.
“So how does this work?” you might ask. “God never speaks to me in a dream or even when I’m wide awake. So what’s the deal?” To those folks, I would have to be in agreement. I would say that, “you are right. God does not speak to you, and I have to wonder if the reason for that is that we don’t ask.
We don’t ask God’s advice when we’re considering Our taxes. And we don’t ask That he stick with us when we make decisions, We don’t ask God to speak to us when we get cut off in traffic And blow up in a rage.
We don’t ask because deep down inside we’re confident that we have this whole situation handled. But guess what: we don’t. Never have, and never will.
If the wise man had thought that they knew best and that Herod wasn’t such a bad guy. Things could have turned out much different. and if Joseph had squared his shoulders And tried To do things on his own, there’s no telling how that would have turned out as well. The stories are endless. I’d like to see the church asking for a little more help from their God. And when he does speak May God grant That he gives us a good pinch just to make sure we are paying attention. May God grant that amidst all the clatter, we can find meaning and that amidst all the nonsense we can find the truth, God’s truth, And that will make all the difference.
So if you’re wondering if Buffalo ever went on to win a Super Bowl, The answer sadly, is no, they have not, the good news is that our God is still a God of mercy and love and compassion let this be our theme for the coming year: when we listen, God will speak. when we ask of him, God will answer.” that’s almost too good to be true. pinch me, I think I’m dreaming.”
Amen and Shalom