Category Archives: Church

Being Community in a Divisive World

This past weekend I had the privilege of being with the good people at Park Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, where my dear friends Russ and Amy Dean are co-pastors.  Being on sabbatical, and not preaching for 2 months, this was a good reminder of what it is like to preach.  Here is the manuscript I took into the pulpit.  Hopefully it is close to what I said!


Being Community in a Divisive World
I Corinthians 3:1-9

Dr. Don Flowers, Jr.
Park Road Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC
February 12, 2017

It is an honor for me to be with you this morning.  Park Road is a congregation that has long been an example to many of us of what a church can, and should be like.  Your willingness to be church today, to experiment, to do things differently, to try and sometime fail, says a lot about who you are and the God you serve.  It is faithfulness not necessarily success that we are called to.  Thank you for being you!

And it is always wonderful being with your pastors.  Russ and Amy have been friends for longer than any of us care to remember.  From days as youth ministers when Amy came to the aid of our youth group after one of our girls was run over by a police car coming to assist another girl who had broken her arm…to last week watching Russ work diligently as most of our Preacher Camp group gathered in the frigid cold of Maryland!  There is a reason God loved me enough to let me live in the South.  Your pastors are friends, examples, mentors, pastors to me.  Sharing the pulpit where they speak week after week is a privilege and a bit intimidating!

Thank you.  And know that if you are ever in Charleston, Conde Nast top city in America to visit, (that’s our Chamber of Commerce ad that we are required to give anytime we leave the city limits) I do hope that along with the beaches and the plantations and the market and the incredible restaurants, you will come and visit us at Providence.  We would be honored to have you worship with us.

During these days of Epiphany you have been exploring the theme, (Re)Defining Community.  We return again to a congregation that was in the midst of that for the first time, in the first century, the church at Corinth.  Our text this morning is from chapter 3.

Will you hear these words of our Lord.

And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

On a sunny spring day go to a graduation ceremony at any seminary or divinity school in the country.  Go up to any graduate and in between the pictures and the hugs and the well wishes, ask them what they expect to discover in the church they are heading to.  Their answers would be not unlike the answers you would get from the people in your congregation on any given Sunday morning if they were asked to describe the church of their dreams.

“A church where everyone loves each other.”
“A church where everyone is welcomed.”
“A church where the needs of individuals are met.”
“A church where people come to know the depth of life.”
“A church where worship is moving and the preaching is great.”
“A church where people meet Jesus.”
“A church where the bills are paid!”  (There is always one realist in the mix!)

But soon after arriving most of these young ministers will be hit in the face with the reality of church.  It is not all sweetness and harmony.  There are conflicts in paradise.  And the causes…

“The preschool has used our glue again!”
“Who thought it would be a good idea to rent a bus to take the kids to camp?”
“I think we need to cut the education budget so we can give more to missions” (or visa versa)
“We have been in this Sunday School classroom for 50 years!  I don’t see why we have to move now!”
“What does the pastor do on her day off anyway?”
“Are we having communion again?”  Followed closely by “It’ about time we had communion!”

Does that sound familiar?  (Not in your church, of course, but the one you heard about across town?)

The reality is that churches large and small deal with conflict.  It come around budget time, with personnel, with theology and worship style and the décor of the sanctuary and classrooms.  It is not just the local church but THE Church that is conflicted.

Denominations are breaking apart over disagreements about missions and women and sexuality and budgets.  Throw in the larger world with issues of politics and race and immigration and poverty and education and and and…..

At times we just want to throw our hands up and scream, “Can’t we just get along?”  Given the level of discord we can understand why the fastest growing religious group in our country are the “Nones,” those who claim no religious affiliation!

We dream of a time when the church was like our dreams, the way that Jesus wanted it to be!  But it was never that way!  Did you hear it in that great hymn we sing this morning, “The Church’s One Foundation.”  We nod our heads through the first verse, “The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord; we are his new creation by water and the Word; from heaven he came and sought us to be his holy bride; with his own blood he bought us, and for our life he died.”

One foundation!  We are all united, one in the spirit, one in the Lord!  (Ooops, different song!)  But if we continue singing, we get to a verse that starts off, “Though with a scornful wonder the world sees us oppressed, by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed…”

Wait!  In the church with one foundation we are rent asunder and distressed by heresies?

It is so!  And in fact, it always has been!  There never was a conflict free church!  At least not after the second member joined!  Divisions happens!  It happened in Corinth, for many of the same reasons we face today.  It would have been, it would be easier if the dissension was organized, but it was legion.  There were multiple issue then, just like today!

And the conflicts seem to catch Paul off guard.  It seems that he had intended to write a letter filled with love and kisses!  As soon as he has finished the “Dear Corinthian Church” (which follows the ancient custom and is a lot more flowery and ornate) he sings their praises.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always…  What a strong and encouraging statement.  It sets the tone for what Paul wants to write!

But it seems he never got a chance!  Perhaps he had just penned those words (remember there was not a backspace/delete button.  Papyrus doesn’t just grow on trees!  Well, it sorta does!) when Chloe’s people arrive with some questions from a an earlier letter he had sent.  Even more, Chloe’s people are able to fill in the blanks, to really give Paul the scoop as to what was happening in Corinth!  And when he hears, well suddenly the tone of the letter changes.  He can’t write love and kisses!  There are conflicts that must be addressed.

Paul had founded the church in Corinth and nurtured the fledgling congregation, but the time came when he needed to go to other mission fields.  Though he loved the church, there were other congregations to start, other ministries to birth.

The church in Corinth was not left alone, however.  Other ministers came to be among them.  There were evangelists and missionaries who were just passing through, sharing their wisdom and theology, gifts, ideas.  Just like today, some had more appeal than others.

That was what was happening in Corinth!  Since Paul’s departure there had been a series of other preachers who had come, namely Apollos.  According to Acts, Apollos was a learned Jew from Alexandria “who taught accurately the things concerning Jesus.”  He was an eloquent and passionate speaker, and “he greatly helped those who through grace had become believers.” He had an audience who admired him and the way he presented the gospel.

There was still another group, however.  These were the “back to basics” folks who wanted to go all the way back to the original apostles.  There was a Cephas following in the church at Corinth.  There is no evidence that Peter had ever been to Corinth, but perhaps someone had been to Jerusalem and heard him speak, or had heard of him from another source who had been impressed.

Even that was not enough for some in the church!  These were the back to Jesus folk!  They weren’t interested in this new religion!  If it had been good enough for Jesus, it was good enough for them!  You almost have to wonder if this was a real faction within the Corinth church or an example of Paul’s sarcasm.  And all of these people, all of these groups, all of these parties knew they were right!

It would be easy to see the situation in Corinth as the original church fight, but that would miss the deeper theological issues being played out.  Remember Paul was writing to a congregation that lived in a particular context, with a history of philosophy and culture that weren’t “Christian.”  One of the leading philosophical influences was that of wisdom.  In this world wisdom did not mean getting straight A’s, but rather a preference for Sophia, the Greek worship of wisdom.  This showed a continuing fascination with the Greek values inherent in that system.

The Greek wisdom philosophy put a great emphasis on rhetoric, being able to argue a position in a way that was convincing to others.  Apparently, Appollos’ preaching style fit in this mold and thus fed the fascination some had with that philosophy.

Others were arguing over baptism.  The old joke (which really isn’t that much of a joke) is of ministers getting together and the first question being asked was how many baptisms they had the previous year.  It was almost a badge of honor.

The same thing was true in the early church.  Appollos had baptized many, and so many were discounting the work of Paul.  It is easy to read Paul’s response as being defensive, and in some ways it is!  But is also points out an important theological issue.  What is the meaning of baptism?  Is it a gateway into membership? Is it a hoop that one has to jump through to be a Christian?  Is it an initiation rite?  Is one method better, more Christian than another?  I know individuals who have refused to join a church because they were told that they had to be baptized again, as if their first baptism was illegitimate.  What is the meaning of baptism?

It is always easier to focus on the “presenting problem” rather than on the deeper issue.  It is easier to fight about the way we baptize rather than struggle with the meaning behind it.  It is easier to fight about how we do communion rather than ponder what the table means.

Meaning questions force us to delve into areas of theology, meaning, what is really going on in us.  Those are much tougher to wrestle with because they can’t be resolved in a 20 minute sermon or a 30 minute Bible Study.  The disconcerting truth is that in our world, with our philosophical system, we do prefer “sound bite/bumper sticker theology.”  It works better for our elevator speech, around the water cooler.  It is easier for a Twitter world.

Dealing with meaning will reveal our differences.  So it is easier just to ignore them, especially in light of Paul’s admonition in I Corinithians 1:10 in which he calls on the members to be in agreement, to have no division, to be united.  We normally read that as being all cut from the same pattern with no difference at all.

But the word used here is the same one Mark used when he talks about the disciples mending their nets when Jesus called them to follow.  Mending the nets did not mean the were all the same!  Mending did not make the hole disappear!   The mending was to assure that the nets held together.

That is the question Paul is raising for the people of Corinth and the people of your congregation.  What holds us together?  Is it the pastor?  The way we do worship?  Our Wednesday night pot-luck suppers?  Our missions in _____________?

It is an important question for a congregation to ask.  What is it that hold us?  But it is just as important to ask what holes are acceptable.  Does everyone have to be the same, do the same, believe the same?  Where are holes acceptable?  Are holes, differences, acceptable?

It was a Wednesday evening many years ago, when our daughters were young.  Anita was at choir practice so it was my job to get the girls home and in bed.  I was putting Savannah, our youngest to bed and it came time to say prayers.

At that time she was in Mission Friends, being taught by Cyndy, one of our friends, who I will say has an amazing prayer life.  Whenever she offers a prayer in church I am just amazed.  Our girls often will call and ask that I get Cyndy to pray for something.  Not me, the pastor!  Cyndy!  As they say, God pays more attention to her!  And it is true!

That night, as Savannah began her prayers, what struck me was that she was praying like Cyndy.  I can’t do that!  I couldn’t teach her that!  I needed some help.

But several months later we were coming home from University.  I was driving the van and Cyndy’s daughter was sitting in the front seat—to help keep me awake, but also to talk.  In the middle of the trip, in the middle of the conversation, I realized that I was having a conversation with her that she couldn’t have with her mother.  Cyndy needed me too!

We need each other.  We need each other to mend the nets, to make sure the holes stay together.  We need each other to keep us from idolatry, from the heresy that we have God captured, all figured out.  We need people with a different perspective, different views, different gifts.

But that only happens when we are willing to be servants to each other.  Paul and Apollos were both servants.  The word used here is diakonos, deacon.  That is what we are called to be.  You who are being ordained today; Russ and Amy, me, you!  It isn’t about privilege and power, but about being a servant.  Listening and learning from each other; looking to ways that we might work together to build God’s kingdom.

Even this day.

I look forward to being back at Providence for Ash Wednesday, and then in the pulpit on March 5 as we begin a Lenten series entitled, From Pew to Passion.

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The End of Community?

I ran into a fellow pastor the other day at Starbucks, hard at work.  I figured he was working on his sermon for next week, but instead he was working on his Facebook page.  To be more specific he was working on his list of friends.

blank-facebook-page-layout_699492“I am sorting them into lists, making sure that no one in my congregation sees anything political,” he said.  “Apparently we have some long time members who have decided to leave our church, not because of anything I have said in a sermon, but because of what I have posted on Facebook.  So I am sorting my lists, making sure no one in my church knows who I really am.”

It was a story that I am sure resonates with so many pastors. 

A friend in another city recently told me that she really didn’t want to know what her pastor thought.  “I really don’t want to know how my pastor feels about anything political.  I just want to come to church and hear the gospel.”

This isn’t a new problem.  The lectionary passage this Sunday is from I Corinthians 3, where Paul is bemoaning the fact that the early church had chosen up sides.  Now it just seems that it has gotten worse.  As technology has made it easier for us to form community, it is also dividing us into segments. 

So what does this mean for church, for community? So how is any pastor to preach “with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other?” 

As I walked out, I thought about the irony of my pastor friend.  This one who is called to form community is being forced to shut himself off from community in order to preserve community.  Is it even real? Is that what we want to incarnate in the church?  Is that what we have come to?

I wonder if I need to segregate my “friend list?”


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Happy Reformation Day

My guess is that today is not that big a deal in your world.  It is the day after Halloween, the day when we all swear that next year we won’t buy the 20-lb bag of candy because we only have 20 Trick or Treaters and we are left with all that candy to eat. (We can’t let it go to waste!  Just think of all those children who don’t have candy to eat!)

Or maybe you are just counting down the days, hoping to survive the last seven days of this election season that will not end!  (Bad news, I predict that it won’t end on November 9.  Sorry!  But that is for another post.)

Or maybe you are one of those people who know that when the witches and goblins disappear it is time for Santa and his elves to show up; to start listening to Christmas music, to get the tree up and decorated!  (Wal Mart has you beat!) But don’t forget about that Thanksgiving season (too late!)

But today is a BIG DEAL.  At least to us in the church.  At least to those of us in the Protestant church.  At least to those of us who wake up way too early on November 1! 

luther-nailing-theses-560x538It is Reformation Day.  OK, actually it was yesterday, but who can compete with characters from Star Wars?    For you who aren’t Church History Nerds, that is the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church.  Just a warning, it was 499 years ago, so get ready to hearing a lot about it this time next year!

It was the act that led to the Protestant Reformation.  It fed into a growing nationalism in Europe with which they are still dealing; it led to a rift in the church that continues to grow.  All this because Martin Luther wanted to start a discussion.  A discussion about indulgences, grace, God and faith.

Confession—until this morning I don’t know if I had ever read Luther’s 95 Theses.  (I am sorry Bill Leonard and Glenn Hinson.  I am sure you assigned it, and I may have read it, but it didn’t find a place in the mental rolodex!)  You too can catch up on that unfinished assignment here!  

Now a few random thoughts:

  • Many of these theses are about indulgences—the medieval church’s stewardship campaign.  I have to wonder if this was Luther’s response to receiving another pledge card, or whether he was just paving the way for those who came after.  Could it be that this is why we never read these in church?
  • Luther’s intention was to start a conversation.  How seldom do we do that in church anymore.  We play it so safe.  We will talk about football, but when was the last time you had a conversation/discussion about Hell, purgatory, or heaven.  Do they even exist in our thought anymore?
  • What would happen in our churches if there was a new “Wittenberg Door” a place where people could post ideas around which they would like to have conversation.  Might that be better then our traditional Sunday School?

What would you post?

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“Once Upon a Time”… or “It Shall Come to Pass”

IMG_2588This used to be a church.  
This time last year people gathered here on Sundays and Wednesdays to study the Bible, sing hymns, hear a sermon, be church.  But today it is being transformed into a parking lot.  In a couple of years it will be filled with student cars as they make their way into the new East Cooper High School. 

There is so much that could be said about this!  We could sing along with Joni Mitchell about paving paradise and putting up parking lots!  IMG_2592

It would be appropriate!  There was a time when paradise happened in this church—or should we say in these churches.  It has been the site of several.  One moved to a larger facility, but the others…  Well they just morphed from one to another until mismanagement, a congregation hanging on to the past, finances finally caught up.  Now paradise will become a parking lot!

Or we could see this as another sign of what Robert P. Jones talks about in his new book, The End of White Christian America.  We are living in a age of transition.  The old majorities, the old ways of relating, of doing things, of doing church are changing.  The result is a great deal of confusion, anger, grief.  One result is the demise of many once thriving religious communities.  It is estimated that 4,000 churches will close this year.  And where will these people go?  Well, some will migrate to one of the other churches within 2 miles of this site, but other will just become a part of the ever growing “unaffiliated.”  Faith will be seen as something we “used to do.”

Or we could see this as the Spirit of God moving in strange ways.  I am reminded of the old Fred Craddock story of serving as pastor of a church that refused to allow anyone who didn’t own property in that country from becoming a member.  There were many new families moving into apartments nearby, tons of children.  But the church refused to reach out.  Years later he wanted to show that church to his wife, and as he drove up was surprised to see the parking lot full, lots of people milling around.  Then he saw the sign.  It said, “BBQ: All You Can Eat.” It was a restaurant! Fred and his wife went inside and the place was packed with all kinds of people—white and black and Hispanic. Rich and poor. Southerners and northerners. Craddock said to his wife, “It’s a good thing this isn’t a church anymore. If it were, these people would not be allowed in.”

It is hard to see it now, as you walk among the bricks and gravel, as you see the signs of what used to be.  But maybe, maybe God is making room for people that the church won’t let in.  Maybe God is going to do church in a different way. 

Even in us.  If we are willing.  IMG_2590

Or not.

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When Episcopalians Become Baptist

St. Phillip'sFor several years I have watched the struggle within the Episcopalian Church.  I have resisted commenting, because I am not Episcopalian.  I am a Baptist minster.  There is something about jumping into the middle of another family squabble that seems unmannerly, and in Charleston that is something that we dare not do!

But this morning on the front page of the Post and Courier, Jennifer Berry Hawes reported that the case is now going to court.  As I read it I was reminded of a conversation I had with a former Episcopal bishop over a decade ago.  The rumblings were beginning.  We were finishing up breakfast when I commented, “You need to read the history of the Southern Baptist Convention.  It is going to be replayed!”  He laughed, slapped me on the back and said, “Don, that’s not going to happen!  We are Episcopalians!

I wish I could say that I was wrong, but as the years have passed, I have watched as the Episcopalians have become more and more Baptist—not only in South Carolina, but across the country.  Time and time again churches and dioceses have chosen to drop their polity, their way of doing church, their hierarchy in favor of the autonomy that Baptists have long treasured and endured!

I understand that!  The church I serve, Providence Baptist on Daniel Island was formed out of a difficult time in Baptist life.  Baptists have historically held firm to 4 freedoms—soul freedom–an individuals freedom to stand before God without an intermediary; Bible freedom–an individuals freedom to read and interpret scripture for themselves under the leadership of the Holy Spirit; church freedom—the freedom of a local church to choose thie own way; and religious freedom—the freedom from state intervention in matters of the soul.  Those are historical beliefs, ideas that made Baptist “misfits,” radical.   There was a sense that those freedoms were being undermined and so we departed.  We left, and have voted 3 times not to be a part of the Southern Baptist Convention!  We know what it is like to leave. It is hard!  It is messy! But it is at the core of being Baptist!

Now our Episcopalian brothers appear to desire to be Baptist!  They are beginning to value local autonomy over the hierarchical structure, with local congregations choosing not to follow the diocese, with the diocese choosing not to follow the national church.  So very Baptist!

At its core, however, they are engaged in a battle about hermeneutics.  That is a theological word that refers to how one interprets the Bible.  While many trace this current conflict back to issues around sexuality, at its core it is how you interpret scripture.  When the Bible speaks against homosexuality, are those verses gospel, binding on all Christians for all time?  When the Bible says that women should be quiet in church, is that authoritative?  The scriptures that speak about caring for the aliens among us, selling everything and giving it to the poor—do they still apply?  In short, the issue is how one interprets scripture.

It is a sticky issue!  No one, no one, takes the Bible literally!  No matter what they say!  We all pick and choose which scriptures are “more Bible” than others!  The question is how we decide!  How do we decide is, dare I say it, more important that what we decide! This struggle is one which every denomination, every church, every individual Christian will have to struggle.  It is one that will shape the face of Christianity.  It is not fun!  Ask the Baptists!  It has cost us seminaries, retreat centers, congregations, relationships.  It is painful!

I had so hoped that I would be wrong all those years ago, that our Episcopalian brothers and sisters could have avoided this battle!  Time and the courts will decide what happens next!  My guess is that we will all look a lot more “Baptist.”

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July 8, 2014 · 2:53 pm

Is There Something You Want to Say, God?

There are times when it seems that God isn’t really subtle.  Oh, I have never seen handwriting on the wall (other than that time when our children wanted to do artwork!!)  I’ve never been struck blind on the road to Damascus, even though I did have that little bout with Neuromyelitis optica.  But still, there are times when God seems to go out of God’s way to speak a word.

It has happened over the past 24 hours.  I was driving to the office on Saturday to finish my sermon (OK, to start the sermon!) I was thinking about what I was going to do, how I was going to get it started, when my attention was caught by a song on the radio.  Apparently it has been out for a while, but I have been in Bali, so it was new to me.  I got to the office and quickly went to YouTube to see this thing that had come to pass.  Here is what I saw.  (Please ignore the ad.  I don’t know how to eliminate it!)

Then we came into worship this morning at 9:00.  We had put the service together several weeks ago.  I had typed the songs titles into the worship planning sheet–but to be honest I really didn’t look at the words.  I normally do, but this time I didn’t!  So imagine my wonder when I heard the congregation sing…

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.  And the waves they shall not overcome you.  Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name and you are mine…I am the Lord…Do not fear.”

The text today dealt with a woman who was afflicted by a spirit that crippled her.  I can’t help but wonder if the spirit that so often afflicts us…oh, lets be honest…afflicts me is the spirit of fear.

So God hits me across the head to say, “Do not fear…I want to see you be brave!”

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Maybe This Year…

I believe in the church of baseball…

Well, I don’t.  At least I didn’t.

I didn’t grow up playing baseball.  Perhaps it was not being good enough to be chosen for a Little League Team my first year, getting hit in the head by the first pitch I ever faced in a game—that was enough!  So I put down my glove and walked away.  I didn’t watch games; I didn’t go to games.  I didn’t do baseball!

Until 1988.

I was the Minister of Youth and Activities at First Baptist Greenville.  It was a tradition (We’ve always done that!) to go to Atlanta, see a Braves game and go to Six Flags.  I had to go.  So the day after returning from another trip, we loaded up the bus and headed down I-85.  To say that I didn’t want to go would be an understatement!  I had been gone for a week.  I missed my family.  But at least we could do Six Flags!

So the tradition continued.  As the summer of 1989 approached we started getting calls from the Braves, asking when we wanted to come again.  This was back in the days when the Braves pleaded with churches to bring group.  As was our tradition, we picked a game and made our plans.

When we arrived at the old field, we discovered that our seats were one row behind the box seats directly behind the Braves dugout!  Dale Murphy came out to bat and I remember thinking he was so much bigger than I ever imagined!  He really didn’t look like those Little Leaguers I had once faced!

I had long heard people talk about the poetry of baseball, the flow of the game, the intense strategy, the emotion.  I had never seen it—until that night.  Sitting there watching the pitchers chose their spots, the mangers sending in base runners, the slow rhythm of the game…I was hooked!

When 1990 came around I found myself watching games on TV, not just the seventh game of the World Series, but games in July and August.  We ventured out to see the Greenville Braves, the farm club where guys with names like John Smoltz and Andrew Jones were playing.

By 1991 I was trying to figure out how many games we could take groups to.  Maybe a game in June AND August—but we were now regulated to the outfield.  But that didn’t matter!  In 1992 I wasn’t just watching the Braves—though that was where my heart was—I was also watching the Giants and the Cardinals and the Dodgers and pulling against the Yankees!  In 93 the fever had spread to my wife and we were staying up in May to watch the end of West Coast Games!  We were so sure that the Braves were going to win it all…at least next year!

But next year…1994, just as the Braves were about to make their run to the pennant…the players went on strike.  There was no run, no World Series, nothing.

And the fever broke.  It was replaced with hurt and anger and my own strike.  I would not watch!  All through the 1995 season I would not watch.  Even as Anita continued to watch (she is so much more forgiving than me…) I would go to another part of the house.  Even as the Braves marched through the playoffs, I would not budge.  The night they captured the Series, Anita was watching downstairs.  I was huddled in the bedroom (though I will now confess that hearing the cheers from downstairs I did watch the final 2 outs!)

I had been hurt.  And so I boycotted.  I didn’t go back.  Even through the home run derby with McGuire and Sosa and Bonds, I held fast to my convictions.  When the steroids scandal broke, it only added fuel to the fire!  I would not watch!

Oh, I did go to a minor league game.  What can be more enjoyable than an evening on the banks of the Ashley River in Charleston watching the Riverdogs, munching on boiled peanuts?  My brother-in-law even convinced me to be a part of a Fantasy Baseball League one summer.  I read everything, knew more batting averages and ERA’s than ever, and won the championship!  But I never watched a game!

And I haven’t!  Since 1994!  It is irrational!  It is crazy!  And the truth is….I miss it!  While surfing through the channels I can’t go past Field of Dreams, or For Love of the Game, or The Natural, or Eight Men Out .  (And yes it is time to let Shoeless Joe in the Hall of Fame!)

Today is opening day, and I am thinking that maybe sometime this year I will watch a game.  But not today, because we are going to the Family Circle Tennis Tournament.  And then in May I am going to Darlington, and by the fall there will be football.  But maybe sometime this year…

I am the pastor of a church.  Coming off Easter, I wonder how many people have had the same experience with church.  They used to go, were a part, had deep convictions.  Then something happened.  Feelings were hurt, they took a stand—even an irrational one, they stood their ground outside.  They left.

And they never came back.  Oh, they want to.  They really really do…but…there are still those hurt feelings, other things have taken the place.

But maybe this year…

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