4 Aug Minister Moment

The Parable of the Basketballs

In southern Illinois the attitude is very midwest, but the weather is not. In one of its small towns there was a street, a street with families living along it. A street with a turn-around at the end. A street with a basketball hoop.

Once the summer heat had ended, the neighborhood kids would gather in the cool of the late afternoon and shoot hoops, or play three-on-three or other games. There was a tall kid who could block every shot, an athletic kid who could get there first and a kid who couldn’t shoot, but was an expert at passing. An old, worn basketball was the center of attention. The streetlights kept them playing until supper.

The parents saw and understood. Each asked Santa Claus for a favor. In Southern Illinois Christmas is crisp, not cold. Dark, but not snowy. And on that morning neighborhood kids awoke with a vague hope of presents, magical possibilities too vast to even imagine. By dinner their hopes had been transformed by basketball ownership. What a gift to share! This was the best Christmas ever.

Still, family obligations kept them from the street that day. It was December 26th when they assembled, full of leftovers, changed out of good shirts, and ready. Each kid brought a brand new basketball and with it dreams of offering their ball to the group as the game ball.

What happened that afternoon was amazing. It was long after dark and the streetlights were the only illumination when parents called to their children – come in for supper. Each came home tired and happy.

Ever since the introduction of “new math” in the 1960s children have been taught something called “set theory.” They are introduced to a model called the Venn Diagram as a way of understanding one basic concept.

A circle, for instance, represents the set of dreams of person A. Inside the circle are the dreams. We can draw a second circle representing person B’s dreams. The second circle can overlap the first one… and the place where they overlap indicates dreams shared by A and B. The crescents on either side are dreams of A not shared by B, and dreams of B not shared by A.  The diagram only says that. It does not comment on the attitude of B regarding A’s unshared dreams, nor of how the shapes will change over time. It’s just a model.

Likewise, school children are not taught how John Venn was a social reformer, working for votes for women. They are not taught that he was an Anglican priest, or that he left the church. Nor do children learn that he built a machine which could bowl cricket balls. All we have learned is the simplification of the Venn diagram.

At a General Assembly workshop on Worship Ideas someone read the inscription from Oregon poet Raymond Carver’s grave:

LATE FRAGMENT
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Hope your summer is going well.  Vacation was great, thanks.
I love you,
Rev Charlie

PS: One more thing… You know that UCN/CVUU is supportive of LGBT service members on active duty and in the reserves.  And you know that recent administrative comments have implied that Transgender service members are not valued by those in charge.  Perhaps you want a way to reach out to that community and show your support. You can.

Bring a card to church on Sunday with simple words of support for distribution to Transgender members of the military.  While you might mention UCN/CVUU, it is more important to keep the focus on them and our support for their service.  Rob Curran will collect the cards after the service and forward them to a local support group for TG
service members. Also, see the TG support poster in the social hall!

If you forget a card there will be extra cards available in the Sanctuary!