The Joba Chamberlain Children’s Sermon


(The following is a children’s message that was presented to the church at the end of September 2010.   As I have said in prior posts, the Children’s message time in our worship is designed with two purposes in mind;  1.) To present a message to the children that is easier to comprehend but speaks of the truth to our faith, and 2.) To repackage the lessons of the “grown up” sermon in a very cut and dry manner.   In this regards, it becomes the nuts and bolts of a message they will shortly here.    

Ultimately, the children’s message has both pieces and tone that can be enjoyed by all the children of God gathered in the church.  This particular sermon was both an opportunity for show and tell, and to remind the mass of Red Sox faithful in my congregation, that Pinstrips are ALWAYS in fashion in October – Go Yankees! )

As I consider this posting, it could be said that a message like this is always best delivered after I am confident that the staff parish relations committee of our church had fully completed and submitted my annual review to the conference.   

Sadly, as it is so often the case, I tend to speak first and consider consequence second.    That said, and fully expecting and embracing the Christian compassion of those that call Asbury Church home, I want to talk to you today about one of my favorite of subjects this time of year:  The New York Yankees.

Obviously, as much as I expect your compassion, I need to employ it on my own side.   God knows that Red Sox fans need some compassion.   Yet, this is not a message intended to point, with great pride , to the standings printed in the newspaper.  Although silently gleeful over the gap between the Yankees and the sox,  my humility and an overwhelming commitment to Christian brotherhood, will not allow me to point out that it will be a pinstriped October.  This message is not about  all that.

Instead, I want to show you something that I received last Christmas from my sister and my future brother in law.    This is a signed Joba Chamberlain baseball:


Joba Chamberlain is a pitcher for the New York Yankees, and one of many favorites I have of those who wear the pinstripes.

I have always had a thing for autographs.   Many of you remember my Patriots Jersey signed by every player that played in the snow bowl game against Oakland on the Pats first trip to the Super Bowl.    I also have this spring training cover signed by many BoSox baseball greats including:   Ted Williams, Rico Petrocelli, Carl Yastremski, and so forth.    

(Note:  I met them all when I was 7 or 8 in Winter Haven, Florida.  I shook their hands and got their autographs on the very day when I decided that I was going to be a Yankees fan.   It was a tough day for little Scott, and something that one day I will share with you all. )

Sadly, you can tell my impression of the Sox, by the horrific condition this sheet is currently in.    I imagine it would have been worth something, but my very brief stage as a Red Sox fan is something I am deeply shamed by, and try to hide deep in the closet of family secrets.   I guess the mementos went there too.

The Red Sox cover aside, someday when I build my man-cave, I hope to frame and case some of these things, and decorate that room with them.   Until that time they sit, biding their time, in Scott’s Autograph Collection.    Each and every start to Football season, I start thinking about that room, and work through the architectural plans in my head.   All of them include at least the baseball and the Pat’s Jersey.

Now in addition to my autograph collection, I also have what I guess you could call my Signature Collection.    This collection is infinitely more valuable, and I would trade all the other stuff just to make sure it stays safe.   You might be asking: “What the difference between and Autograph Collection and a Signature Collection?”   

Let me tell you of the two things that make them different.

First, they are not usually on baseballs or the cover to some antique spring training program, but rather take the form of greeting cards, or Happy Birthday drawings from my girls.   In addition to birthday cards, I have old anniversary cards, and Christmas wishes from years ago.  In that box are even a couple of thank you cards that have come to me through people in the church, along with a drawing or two that some of youngest in our congregation have made of me.    They have a special spot in that old box in my nightstand.    Here’s a secret:  when I am feeling like I need a pick me up, I open and read one or two of them.  

Second, a Signature collection is different from an Autograph collection, in that they are the signatures of the people that are most important in my world, mean the most to me, and the people I am closest with.   To tell you the truth, I like Joba Chamberlin, but life will okay if I never meet him in real life.   I like Tom Brady, and I will be okay if he decides to stop playing football.    Mind you, it might take a while to move from the obligatory mourning period, but rest assured I will be okay.

Instead the people whose signatures I capture in that box in my nightstand are the absolute most important people in my life.    I can’t imagine what life would be like without any one of them.   They represent the people that I rush home from work to see each day, or the people I miss when I am away from home.   The people in that box, are those that make me laugh and be silly, and they are those that sometimes make me angry or want to cry.   The people in the box are the people who make me a better man, pastor, dad, and husband.   Those people make me, me.

When I think about the difference between Autographs and signatures, I also think about the different ways that people view God.   Some people think of God, like that superstar signing autographs.  They see a God, who is someone who just pops into play every now and then.   Most of the time it doesn’t matter much who God is, or how God shows up in their day to day.    They live, like I do with Joba or Tom; they’d miss him if he was gone, but in the end their life isn’t much different with him or without him.  Let’s call them the “Autograph” people.

Then there is the other group of people.   This is the group of people that our faith calls us to be.    These are the people that have God being a major central point of their life.    These are the people that are excited to learn about, celebrate, and spend time with God.    When you feel like you have wandered a bit away from God, they miss him and find any way to return.   

They have that same relationship with God that I have with the people whose names are held in that box.    God becomes the person that makes them laugh and enjoy life, and sometimes makes them cry or angry.    They have that relationship with a God that makes them better people, better parents, better children, and better friends.   We will call these people the “signature” people.

Ultimately, theirs is the relationship we are supposed to have with God.   As we grow and learn more about who God is, we move closer and closer to just that.   I like to tell people that if you are looking for God, and you are committed to finding him, you will, and the God you find will be exciting, life changing and fun.    I believe if at the end of their search they find God and they can’t believe or are not completely blown away by the God they discover, they need to keep looking.

So, the next time you open a birthday card, get a drawing from a friend, or find a note from someone you love,…remember, the relationship you have with them, is the relationship that God wants with you, and that is pretty miraculous if you ask me.

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