Speaking of Papa, we had that Football Fest thing going on tonight. Football Fests happen quite often in the Woodward home, ESPECIALLY when the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing.
Since Papa is from just outside Pittsburgh, he brought us up properly to love Jesus & THE STEELERS. For overseas buddies, the Steelers are a National Football League team with rather DEDICATED & DEVOTED fans! : )– (click here to read Va’s explanation of American Football) Tonight we watched an NFL special, “The Immaculate Reception,” all about an amazing play that happened on 23 December 1972.
FORTY YEARS LATER folks are still talking about it. Not just talking – the play that won Pittsburgh that playoff game in the last 22 seconds has been watched more than any other sport-ish type video… (indeed, they showed it from every angle at least 50 times in this program, i kid you not!) Then there’s a statue of the key player, Franco Harris, at the Pittsburgh airport (next to George Washington, the 1st President of the United States)… & when school children go to the History museum, they are treated to a whole exhibit with the explanation, replay & the chance to see the shoes Franco wore (that are handled with as much care as Vatican Treasures!)
Dubbed, ‘The Immaculate Reception,” since Franco Harris miraculously caught (grabbed?) a long pass that somehow bounced over the intended receiver who was knocked down on his tushi. No one Really Saw How It Got to Franco (although every camera from every angle has been replayed & analyzed every which way to Sunday these 40 years!) The point being, Franco ran the ball in for a Touchdown with only 22 seconds on the clock… & the Steelers won. The crowd went crazy (this was before the team had done much Super Bowl winning, which they have done since. SIX TIMES! )
What the heck does this have to do with Advent? Well, today’s Gospel reading covered Mary’s reception of Angel Gabriel’s message. What seemed totally impossible (bearing a child, not just any child but the Son of God!!) she responded, “Let it be done to me as you have said.”
Mary didn’t understand (‘how can this be since I have not known man?’) … but she accepted… & then moved forward in faith to receive Baby Jesus & carry Him 9 months to Bethlehem.
If you watch the ‘Immaculate Reception’ video (click here for a YouTube viewing), it’s almost impossible to see how Franco got the ball. But, thinking Advent-ish applications, he did grab the ball & run, run, run to the End Zone.
I don’t know how it’s already December 20th (!) There’s not much time left ’til Christmas, but it may seem like the ‘End Zone’ is still So Far Away: presents to wrap, parties to host, cakes to bake, last minute shopping to squeeze in …all those ‘oops, i forgot things to do’ before your family visitors arrive, &, of course, COOKING (lots of that!)
Maybe there’s even some down-field blocking needed to make your celebrations smooth (& avoid Family Fireworks that are not about Light in the Darkness but defusing sibling rivalry relationship Bombs from Going Off…)
Whatever!! The point is, have faith (& ask for grace) to receive whatever God sends your way these last few days before Christmas to make it to the End Zone.
Nothing is impossible with God (as Angel Gabriel said to Mary!) … even finding a bit of peace amidst the holiday hustle. (Going to Church might help on that front!!!)
Believe it. Grab the ball & let’s run the Joy Play (with Jesus’ help) through whatever faces us today. And, maybe, we will find little miracles (like mini-Immaculate Receptions) happening in our hearts if we’re open to receive them along the way..
grace, peace & Receptive Hearts
Virginia : )