OK, I know not all of you enjoy sports. Many of you don’t care to spend any more time than you absolutely have to hearing about sports. If you fit into one of these categories please feel free to stop paying attention to this particular memo. For those of you who are even slightly attentive, or perhaps like myself and cannot bear the thought of a world without ESPN, there is only one question to consider this morning (I was asked it three times before 8 o’clock this morning) and it is: Who do you have in your bracket?
If you don’t know what this bracket is but are following along; the bracket I’m talking about is the grouping of Division I men’s college basketball teams into an end of the year tournament that determines the national champion. There is also a bracket for women’s basketball but – what I’m asking about is the men’s tournament. There are 68 teams that are divided into four regions. Like other sports tournaments this one plays down until there is the “The Sweet Sixteen,” “The Elite Eight” and then finally, “The Final 4.” On TV they call it “March Madness,” even though it doesn’t finish until April 6th, which is the day after Easter. This means that in order to watch the semi-finals on April 4th I’ll need to have preparations for Easter ready before Saturday night. Please pray for me.
This year when the coach of Hampton (the team that is the lowest ranked) found out his team must play the highest ranked team, Kentucky (a team that has yet to lose a single game this year) did something interesting we’ve all wanted to do from time to time. Listen to this according to Yahoo! sports: “Hampton coach, Edward Joyner Jr. knows the odds against his team are astronomically long, so he decided to appeal to a higher power. He pretended (we assume he was pretending) to get Jesus Himself on the phone. But when the coach asked Jesus about how to handle Kentucky, Jesus apparently hung up. Even Jesus is taking Kentucky.”
A majority of people are taking Kentucky in their brackets; there are those who are taking either Wisconsin or a few going with, get this…. Iowa State. I always go with Duke. Forgive me, I know that is a less then popular pick but I like the way they play, they have a Minnesota kid in the starting line up and get this, Duke is a United Methodist School. I have no idea who Jesus is taking but, and with respect to Yahoo! sports and half of the country (and my guess is the entire state of Kentucky isn’t rooting for Louisville, either) I am convinced that he would not be taking Kentucky.
Jesus would be taking Hampton or Costal Carolina who nobody is giving a chance. If you ask me, Jesus would be taking somebody like the Minnesota Golden Gophers who are not even in this year’s tournament. Jesus is always siding with the underdog, the men and women of the world who no one gives a chance, the ones who are left out of a chance of making it at life. Jesus is always pulling for us when we don’t give ourselves much of a chance in the challenges of our life’s bracket.
With all that is going on in our world, with all that is going on within our church for that matter, commenting on who Jesus would be taking in this year’s bracket may seem trite at best and blasphemous at worst. But in the spirit of this sometimes tongue in cheek memo, there is something important in remembering that Jesus doesn’t “take” any one team or person over another. It’s a basketball game! Not a world crisis. And by the way, Jesus has never hung up on anybody, the coach was just pretending. Go Duke.
Keep the Faith!