Contributed by Pastor Seth Moland-Kovash, All Saints Lutheran Church, Palatine, IL
Who are the historical figures you look up to the most?
Signs of the Times
We all have historical figures to whom we look up. We admire what they accomplished. We are thankful for what they did for the rest of us. We use them as examples of what we could accomplish or how we should behave. Heroes of the past are an important part of any culture.
In our culture, as in many others, some of our most-admired heroes are sports figures. Halls of Fame are places where heroes of the past are especially remembered. In the summer of 2010 Andre Dawson was chosen to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In a career that spanned 1976 through 1996, Dawson played for four major league teams and amassed a career batting average of .279 with 438 home runs.
One important factor in remembering our heroes is how they are remembered. Do we remember them as baseball players or as humanitarians? If as baseball players, for which team do we remember them playing? For Dawson, as for many others, there has been some controversy over which team’s cap his Hall of Fame bust will wear. The final decision, which was up to the Hall of Fame committee, is that Dawson will wear the cap of the Montreal Expos instead of a Chicago Cubs’ cap, which was his choice.
- When you picture your favorite historical figure, how do you know that it’s him/her?
- How much control should public figures have over how they are remembered? Should Dawson be able to choose which team’s cap his statue wears in the Hall?
Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, February 7, 2010 (Fifth Sunday after Epiphany)
(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)
For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.
When Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him up the mountain, they met the greats of the past. It was as if Mt. Rushmore or the Baseball Hall of Fame had come to life for them on the mountaintop. They saw Moses, the author of the law they had been studying since they were little boys. They saw Elijah, the prophet above all prophets, promised to come again before the Messiah. And they saw their friend Jesus in all his glory.
I’ve often wondered (and I know I’m not alone) how Peter, James, and John knew that it was Moses and Elijah they were talking with. They didn’t have pictures of them. How could they have known? What was it about the experience that helped them understand it?
Remember that the version we’re reading was written down a long time later. Perhaps it took them a long time to figure out what had happened to them. Perhaps it was only after Jesus’ death and resurrection that they looked back and realized completely what they had experienced. Maybe only after talking it over with others (and with Jesus) as they came down the mountain, did they start to figure it out.
- In religious history, who is the figure (let’s say other than Jesus) with whom you’d want to sit down and have a chat? What would you talk about?
- How do you recognize someone as a great person? What are the qualities of greatness that you look for?
Sit down with the historical greats of your congregation. Find several persons who have been a part of your congregation the longest and ask them about what they remember of the congregation’s past.
Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the saints and great ones whom you have given to us as examples and teachers. Help us to learn from their example as we try to follow you. Amen.