Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12: 1-2 (NIV)
Fall has now officially arrived. And of course you can feel it in the air. From a government standpoint, it will become official next Sunday morning as we set our clocks back one hour. But fall is officially here—the World Series of Major League Baseball begins two days from now on Wednesday, October 28, 2009, with the New York Yankees of the American League facing off against the Philadelphia Phillies of the National League.
Fall is here.
And to this day Lynda says she doesn’t remember the plain brown paper bag hanging surreptitiously from my left hand on that fall day in the first year of our marriage.
The year was 1967 and the month was, of course, October, and the day was remarkable because it was the first game of the World Series. Lynda and I had been married in June and enjoyed a honeymoon of a four day trip along the east coast from Florida back to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware—our assignment, as it turned out, for the next two years.
My perennial favorites, the long-suffering Boston Red Sox, were about to square off for the opening tilt against the mighty St. Louis Cardinals. My supervisor in the Radar shop at the Air Force base could sense that my attention was elsewhere and graciously, or perhaps envisioning a situation in which my inattention to electronics repair might lead to an improperly repaired unit ultimately being installed into one of our high-flying aircraft, gave me the afternoon off to go home to watch the game.
Before driving off base, I stopped, even though I knew I shouldn’t, at the base grocery store and bought a six-pack of Hamm’s beer. It was a period in my life before I realized the perils and lack of control that drinking alcohol inflicts upon individuals, families and the community. It was a period before I stopped drinking alcohol completely—for my own good, the example to my family and, I hope, for the good of many others. The six-pack cost a whopping eighty-five cents which at that time, for Lynda and me, was more than our meager budget could afford.
And so there I was driving home for the game, beer on the seat next to me, and feeling the guilt for my purchase steadily rise within me. It was more than I could withstand, and so when a florist shop unexpectedly popped into view on the road ahead, I stopped, purchased two yellow roses which came decorated with some dainty plant called “baby’s breath” and all wrapped nicely in sheets of green tissue paper with a bow. Feeling slightly better, I headed home with my one-dollar bribe, laying on the seat along-side the brown paper bag with its illicit contents, and realizing that I had now spent one-dollar and eighty-five cents that we couldn’t afford,
Lynda saw me pull in and rushed to greet me at the door, and all she saw were the two yellow roses I pushed toward her face with the accompanying greeting “Happy World Series!” She beamed at the sight of my distraction, and never said a word about the beer, and in typical fashion, my Red Sox lost game one to Bob Gibson’s record setting performance of seventeen strikeouts, and eventually lost the World Series.
But the tradition of the World Series roses, now usually a dozen yellow ones, given on the first day of each World Series, has continued without blemish for forty-one years, despite its ignominious beginnings. It was perhaps a selfish and silly beginning to a tradition which now undergirds a higher cause, an annual symbol of renewal of a lifetime commitment to a precious gift from God. Each year the tradition continues—at least as I see it—as a reminder of the love and sacrifice to an ideal higher than self, higher than things—to our marriage of forty-two years ago.
Traditions like that, no matter their beginnings, are to be cherished and nurtured, moving and reminding us and others of a higher, more majestic view of life and the dreams for our lives God has placed in our hearts. Our Country’s traditions of freedom and liberty and the pursuit of happiness born out of rebellion and injustice. A tradition of sacrificial love and faith born out of a Savior hanging on a cross. And in the lives of so many who have gone before us demonstrating a tradition of selfless sacrifice rising above personal convenience and comfort.
Yet too often today our lives instead conform to ruts self-centeredness and comfort measured for success by the size of our bank accounts, the positions of power we hold or the status we have attained in society, while the institutions we create perpetuate a system grounded in self-defeating ruts, rather than soaring and idealistic traditions. Our government, and too many other institutions, seems to have lost sight of the truth and the traditions, foundations and ideals upon which our great Nation was established. Our churches and schools would often do well to return to the reasons they were established to change lives and the world around us for good and ultimately His glory.
We can do better. We need to do better. We need to stand for more, now.
The traditions of our faith, of our Country—even of World Series roses—demand that we do, and demand better of our lives each and every day of our lives, for ourselves, for others, for all the world, and for all eternity.
In His Name—Scott