Sunday, June 17, 2018

Never Tell Me the Odds

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 17:32-49 (NRSV)

Recently, our family went to see the new Star Wars movie, Solo.  While it has received mixed reviews, we all enjoyed it thoroughly.  I think for me, it had to do with director Ron Howard’s nod to the nostalgic revisiting of a beloved character.  Han Solo first came alive for me as a child and the bravado that he characterized captured not only my interest but that of the country.  His second big screen appearance (I’m not counting the Christmas special) in The Empire Strikes Back only added to his popularity.  One of my favorite lines in this movie was when they were trying to escape from the Empire in their starship, the Millennium Falcon.  They were frantically working on their engines when they get hit by a large thump.  They find out that they are entering an asteroid belt.  Instead of flying away from it, Han Solo flies directly into it, declaring, “They would be crazy to follow us!”  At this point, the android C-3PO tells Solo that the odds of successfully navigating an asteroid field are 3,720 to 1 to which he replies, “Never tell me the odds!”

What he means is that he has already made up his mind to do it and doesn’t want any negativity ruining his confidence in his ability to succeed!

In this week’s scripture reading, we have this wonderful story that predates Star Wars by about three millennia.  David and Goliath have transcended the Bible and are a part of our culture.  To be a substantial underdog in a sports contest is often referred to as a David versus Goliath matchup.  We talk about defeating our Goliaths in reference to any large problem we may be facing.

As we re-read the story, we see that David had a certain amount of confidence of his own!  He recounts his own prowess in dispatching lions and bears (oh, my!).  He refers to Goliath as an “uncircumcised Philistine” showing his disdain for the foreigner rather than respect for his size and ability.  And then, like any good hero, he follows through on his promises.

This Sunday, we will revisit this old, old story.  We will see how it continues to live on for us today and how our confidence in taking on problems should have a little bravado in it.  I hope you’ll join us for worship and if you can’t make it in person, join us for our livestream or catch it later on the archives!

In Christ,


Photo of "Han Solo" is a copyrighted promotional image used under the Fair Use license.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Not the Number One Draft Pick

Lectionary Reading for Sunday: 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 (NRSV)

This passage is rich for a lot of reasons.  I like how at the end of chapter 15, we see God regret some previous decisions.  This may raise a lot of theological questions on God’s knowledge of the future.  It even may allow people to query if God is infallible or not.  There’s a lot packed into that one sentence.

I also like the conversation between God and Samuel.  Samuel is worried that he will be killed for treason if he anoints another man king while Saul is still on the throne.  God works out his cover story for him!  This dialogue would not be available to everyone of that time.  They would have only seen Samuel as the sly old man who is working in a revolutionary manner by throwing his weight behind a new monarch. 

But maybe the best part of the story is the exposure of our preconceived ideas.  God does not look as mortals do (such as outward appearance) but God looks upon the heart.  Samuel and the rest have a good idea who they think will be the next king.  God’s candidate is definitely a dark horse!  But we see that God does know more about the future than we do as David eventually becomes the standard by which all other Israelite kings are measured.

Underdog was also a cartoon character
in the 1970's that evidently is still recognizable!

We all like a good underdog story.
Now that the NBA finals have wrapped up, Thunder fans are looking to free agency and the draft (even though we don’t have a first round pick this year).  My favorite NBA player is probably John Starks.  For full disclosure, this is largely because we are both alumni of Oklahoma State.  However, Starks for me rises ahead of other noteworthy players not because of his talent but because of his story.  Originally from Tulsa, Starks was only at OSU for a year after bouncing around several colleges.  He was not drafted when he finished his college eligibility.  He played during the summer and in the now-defunct CBA which were all minor leagues.  He was bagging groceries in Tulsa between college and the NBA.  Probably, he is most famous for his dunk over Horace Grant and Michael Jordan in the Eastern Conference finals when the New York Knicks were playing the Chicago Bulls in 1993.  Now, John Starks is not even in the same ballpark (so to speak) as Michael Jordan and maybe that is why that particular play was so memorable (to Knick fans anyway).  For many, this seemed like David and Goliath - at least as far as athletic talent goes.

Starks is one more underdog story.  There are lots of them.

They remind us that the most talented or the richest don’t always win.  Sometimes people have something in them that allows them to overcome people with greater ability.  As we think about this spiritually, we would say that God’s grace is available to all people.  This levels the playing field in a way that nothing else does.  It means that we each have the possibility to thrive and succeed.

While not everyone may see your potential, we believe that God does. 

Sometimes that’s all we need.

In Christ,


Photo by Alicia Griffin via  Used under the Creative Commons license.