Father Manny Speaks: If Hope Springs Eternal, Winter Brings Eternal Snowshoveling (and sports fan anguish)

Just to let you know, this past Sunday, on a cold, damp and cloudy Pennsylvania morning, Punxsultawney Phil indeed did see his shadow.  That means for those who place their meteorological hopes on a groundhog, we are facing six more weeks of brutal, winter weather.  What joy!

For all Denver Bronco football fans, this year’s Super Bowl was nothing more than a Super Bust!  Seattle Seahawks provided an old fashioned thumping to the tune of 43 to 8.  Those of us who had hoped for a competitive game were sadly disappointed in this rather one-sided affair.  As a long-time (and long-suffering) Lions fan, I have come to understand and appreciate the many levels of frustration and disappointment.  Yet, one thing I have not experienced is watching my beloved Motor City Kitties get trounced in a world championship game…at least not yet.  Still, hope springs eternal and I remain ever faithful and not some “fence sitting, fair weather fan.”  It’s “all in or all out,” for me when it comes to my allegiance to my favorite teams.

Being true to our causes, dedicated to the things we hold as sacred and important is often times rather challenging.  Standing up and being vocal for equal rights and fair housing, pay equality for all American workers, ending racial profiling and abuses against women and children…all valid and immensely important causes well worth the energy and effort we put forth.

Our country has seen many struggles in her efforts to see that freedom and equality ring true for all her citizens.  This job has not been completed.  Our country must still exercise true freedom for all.   The Civil Rights Movement in the late 1940’s and early 50’s ushered in that struggle and changed the trajectory of our nation and her treatment and recognition of our sisters and brothers of color.  Rosa Parks refused to surrender her Montgomery, Alabama bus seat after all the “for whites only” seats were filled.  Her actions fueled the growing Civil Rights Movement.  There were others who preceded Rosa with their own actions and civil disobedience of where they sat on Alabama buses:  Irene Morgan and Sara Louise Keys stood tall and firm in the resolution to be treated fairly and with dignity and they refused to surrender their bus seats.  Browder v. Gayle was a landmark court case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Both the lower and Supreme courts ruled the Alabama bus systems must desegregate and found their segregation laws as unconstitutional.  Three days after the Supreme Court ruling in 1956, Alabama desegregated their entire bus system.  The tide was turning, but there was still much to do.  These young women and men stood tall and firm in the beliefs and in their desire to make a difference in the world.  They remained resolute to their cause and in their individual and collective efforts, a huge difference was made.

Fighting personal battles is not unfamiliar to any of us.  We all face difficulties and challenges.  Wilma Rudolph was born with infantile paralysis and was forced to wear a brace on her left leg for many years.  Regardless of this impediment and the pain she endured, Wilma was persistent to be “normal” and walk, run and enjoy life.  In 1960 at the Rome Olympics, Wilma won 3 Gold Metals and was proclaimed “The Fastest Woman in the World.”  She won the battle.  She kept her course. She was true to her convictions and beliefs.

What about our faith?  What about how we demonstrate our beliefs and “personal creeds’ when we’re not in church?  This is much more difficult and daunting, isn’t it?  We all know “what to do” and “how to do” things while in our worship space.  The real test of being a practicing Christian is when we are engaged in the day-to-day actions of the world.  When we’re in traffic or in the grocery store, or when we we’re asked to wait for just a moment and we don’t have that moment to spare.  We are challenged and tested when a family matter become family crisis or when a friend is in dire need and we’re already exhausted and pushed to the limit but still need and want to help.

What inspires us to continue to sacrifice and to “live out our faith?”  What is our driving force?  It is my hope that, first and foremost, our force is always Jesus; our source and the driving force of life, grace and peace.  Let us also look toward one another: let us inspire and lead in matters of faith and in our day to day interactions.  Let us all receive and share the Light that is Christ Jesus and serve as guide for those who need our assistance to see the true and righteous path.  Let us be sincere and forever true to our cause and stand firm in our beliefs.  There is no telling what the true effect our actions will yield…but how joyful will the noise be that we make and all for God’s greater glory.

[editor’s note: thanks to the kindness of a local schools contractor, our parking lot and sidewalks get plowed and shoveled… on weekdays only, so someone has to shovel and snowblow for weekend services. At least our weekday support groups reap the benefit, and we St Nick’s parishioners will soldier on through 6 more weeks of winter – gg]

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