Reflection Written by Bishop Jeff

For adolescent males growing up in Billings, Montana, there were really two bibles. There was the original, the one with the 10 Commandments, the one that made you blush and the rest of the class snicker if you got stuck reading a verse with the biblical wood that began with sh-, the one with the story of Jesus that really did have the power to change your life if it got through your defenses. The other was the “Sporting News.” In a pre-internet, pre-ESPN, far flung place, the “Sporting News” was all you really needed to be an authority. You can guess which bible commanded most of our attention.

Every time the “Sporting News” hit the newsstand at a whopping $.35 a copy, it was like Christmas all over again. It was the one trusted source of information on all your favorite teams. It was worth coming in from the playground. It was worth a day of feigned illness from school. In retrospect it may have been ground zero (or close to it) of our hideous obsession with sports in this country.

Decades later,I still remember one prominent headline. It was a story about Bill White,first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, who since they had a farm team in Billings, were my second favorite team behind the beloved New York Yankees. The headline was this
“SUPERSTARS ARE MADE, NOT BORN” It was a compelling story about how a baseball player of considerable but not overwhelmingly great talent, through hard work and perseverance, became one of the best players in the game. Who knows why I remember that. Perhaps it was inspiring to a scrawny adolescent who was already a punch-and-judy hitter by the age of eleven.

Decades later I still don’t know what to make of that story. I seem to care less and less about whether superstars are made or born and have become more and more suspicious of the title itself.

I have, however, become convinced that FAMILIES ARE MADE, NOT BORN. Whether our families today are anything reminiscent of the days of “Dick and Jane”, or whether they are the assembling of a herd of strays is really immaterial. What matters is not so much our pedigree or our ritual as it is our will to be be family.

I have been so pleased to hear of many in our synod and in our community who understand this time as a time not only to celebrate but also to create family. The number of churches providing food baskets,the number of places offering meals to strangers, remind us that Thanksgiving is not as much about the abundance of the harvest as it is about the sharing of the harvest.

The same holds true when it comes to gathering around the family table. Let’s face it. Overindulgence is nothing special for most of us. Isn’t it instead the hunger for honest relationships which so often goes unsatisfied? Isn’t this the time to look each other in the eye and speak to words of love and forgiveness which so often go unsaid?

Last week I saw a post on Facebook from the daughter of my best friend. It`s now been 16 years since their dream house burned to the ground. Just about everything they owned vanished with in minutes. While many of those things could never be replaced, they have been superseded by a bigger house and more stuff. However, those material things are no longer the things for which she is most thankful. It’s those who stood among the ruins with “nothing but each other” for whom she is now so terribly thankful. FAMILIES ARE MADE, NOT BORN.

God of the harvest, bless our homes, bless our feast, renew our relationships, leave room at the table for those who have nowhere else to go. Amen

© 2017 Greater Milwaukee Synod

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