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The Last One Picked at Recess- Midweek Musing 1/17/24

One major difference between elementary school now and when most of us went to school is the amount of time students are allowed for recess. Typically, today we have 15 or maybe 20 minutes for recess and sometimes not even that much. When I was in school, I think we had a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes and sometimes longer. Now I am not going to debate the benefit of more recess as compared to more time in instruction—I know the arguments well…I have my opinions (which frankly mean very little) and I will be glad to share them with you another time if you want to invite me out for Diet Coke! That said, I do remember in my own recess that there were both good days and bad days depending upon what activity we decided to do. In fact, the activity we chose could impact my mood the rest of the day.

You see I was a slow, overweight chubby kid and there were certain activities at which I did not excel. Running races, playing soccer, or anything that involved speed and dexterity were definitely not my thing. I also was not a great baseball player as I tended to swing too hard which caused me to miss far more pitches than I hit, and I was far too slow to play anything but catcher or a first baseman. (I will say that when I did make contact the ball went a long way, which was good because I didn't have much foot speed to get around the bases.)

While politically incorrect now, what I did excel at was "Cops and Robbers” and “Cowboys and Indians.” I also enjoyed the swings.

Eventually my size was appreciated on the offensive and defensive lines but that took a few more years to show up.

Of course, the worst part about any of these activities was the selection process for the teams. I knew that if we were going to be doing any of “those dreaded things” that I would be one of the last two selected. Everyone else's name would be called first and then my destiny was dependent upon whether they needed a catcher or slow right fielder. And sometimes someone would just point and say you and you pointing at no place in particular and we would just pick the team we were ourselves. To be honest there were days when recess was just disheartening.

Of course, at one point in time this has happened to all of us. In fact, I imagine in reading these lines you have remembered such a moment which still lives as a hurt deep in your soul.

In those moments when we knew it was going to happen, we would all dream that just once as a surprise to the world, we would be chosen first. That we would avoid the agony of waiting and waiting until everyone else’s had been selected. Yes, in that moment we would like to hear our name called with enthusiasm and excitement!

I guess that's one of the reasons I liked going to church so much as a kid. In Sunday school and youth group and worship I heard the message that God picks us first. That God looks at us all and with arms stretched wide as the cross reaches around all of us and says I choose all of you first. And then God pulls us into a loving embrace.

Friends, this message of God’s love and of God choosing us and doing so with enthusiasm is what our world needs to hear. The world tells folks in so many ways they are unworthy, but the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that we of immeasurable value and that by the grace of God we are each loved by our Creator as if we are the only one to love. And when we recognize this, we can truly live in peace and joy.

Thanks be to God.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit Alleluia Amen.


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