Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat. A reflection of March Madness and Palm Sunday

If you examine the image above, you’ll notice it’s my bracket for the Men’s March Madness tournament. I’ve not done too poorly, and I feel confident about selecting U Conn to take the championship once more. However, numerous red x’s mark where I incorrectly predicted the winning team. With only 16 teams remaining, 52 teams have suffered losses and exited the competition. What began with immense hope and cheering has concluded with tears, disappointment, and in many instances, supporters blaming players and/or coaches for their team’s premature departure. Some fans might have even removed their school’s apparel to avoid mockery.

On Palm Sunday, while attending church, I was struck by the parallels between Jesus entering Jerusalem to the sound of “Hosanna in the highest”  and the 68 teams entering the NCAA tournament. Both the people lining the streets to worship Jesus with palm fronds and the losing teams’ boosters showing their school’s colors, ended up very disappointed. Peter was the ultimate disappointed fan denying Christ 3 times.
In both situations, people in the stands and on the road into Jerusalem, were putting their trust in man versus God.  Fans called for coaches to be fired and in Jesus’ sake, the crowds shouted “Crucify Him”!  

So the question for us this Holy Week is “where will we put our trust?”  Do you yearn for what the Kingdom in Heaven or the world has to offer? Deuteronomy 8 offers this great reminder.  You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.”

God through His son Jesus Christ (not coaches or players) gives us the ultimate victory.  As we prepare for Easter,   “Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. Deuteronomy 8:6-9

May your Hosannas be cried out whether you are being challenged or blessed. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  I can be reached via email at [email protected]   Please subscribe to receive email notifications when new content is published.  HAPPY EASTER!   

Faith Hope and Love but the greatest of these is Love

Last week, I wrote about why being silent is not always a good thing. It just have resonated because more people opened this blog post than any other in the almost two years I have been writing this blog. I also shared that sometimes our lack of action is a way of being silent as well.  As I thought and talked to others about how to practically apply this concept, I was surprised how being loved or loving others motivates us to not be silent whether in word or deed.  In Acts 2 and then again in Acts 4, Peter is compelled to share what God wants for us because he had been loved by Jesus. If we truly care about another person, we will speak up on their behalf, do something if they need help, or make repair if we have hurt them in some way.  Here is the link to last week’s blog where you can find read a couple examples of how this can be done.

I think one of the most significant ways we can love one another is to forgive or to ask for forgiveness.  Think about it.  If someone does something to you and says they are sorry, forgiving them is a great way to show love.  If neither party is unwilling to say they are sorry or forgive, that silence will fester and negatively impact, not only the relationship but, as Gwen Randall-Young writes, one’s own health and mental well being as well. Our desire to make repair should be a motivating influence to not be silent but to move toward the other person.  I spoke to one friend this week who shared she apologizes while literally sitting on her child’s lap. Her daughter knows her mom won’t get up until things are resolved. What a wonderful picture of having the intentionality of desiring restoration.

God shows us the way in 1 John 1:9 where it says, “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us out sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” He wants us to come to Him with our failures and imperfections. We should want to do the same to those we have let down in some way. Matthew affirms this behavior where he writes, “ So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

I will close with these two important points. The bible says we must forgive but that it doesn’t always lead to reconciliation. I found a link to an article that unpacks this concept in a wonderful way. Another important consideration is that we must forgive ourselves before we can ask someone else to forgive us. May times people can’t ask for forgiveness because they think how could someone else forgive me when I can’t forgive myself? This points us back to the promise God gives us in 1 John 1:9.

What relationship is out of accord and needs repair? Why not in Faith seek them out and share how they have hurt you or how you have hurt them. Give each other the opportunity to confess their part in the broken relationship with the Hope that things can be resolved. Break the silence in word or in deed knowing that Love is the greatest and will show you the way.

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