Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Memphis Messiah, (or Coach Cal and Christ)

Now that the dust has settled a bit, I'd like to share some thoughts regarding the recent departure of University of Memphis basketball head coach John Calapari. When the announcement was made that our Coach Cal was considering the position at the college basketball Mecca University of Kentucky, our city was thrown into an uproar. My wife and I gave one another bewildered glances as the newscast informed us of the candlelight vigil outside his home.

This was a huge blow to the morale of those Memphians who had seen a great deal of healing and unity across racial and socio-economic lines centered on a powerhouse home team. Our impending 2009-2010 season of glory was evaporating before us like Marty McFly's hand in Back to the Future. Gone were the hopes of many that Cal would then retire and run for a landslide victory as mayor of the newly formed Memphis/Shelby County Metropolitan Alliance. Cal would surely take his golden-child recruits with him and leave us in the wake of his Lexington legacy. Emotions ran the grieving gamut, from disbelief and anger to pleading, acceptance, and so on. Our Hope was moving to a new tax bracket.

As this was all taking place, I was reading about the four hundred years of silence between the last prophet Malachi and the birth of Jesus Christ. Time and time again, Israel would experience small victories under leaders such as the Maccabees, only to be forced into subjugation once again by the evil empires of the day. Zealots would rise up in the spirit of Joshua and the ancient judges to take back in glorious battle that which belonged to the Lord, but it was to no avail. They awaited the promised Messiah to deliver them once and for all. Then Jesus Christ came onto the scene, kindly and repeatedly revealing to them, "Right desire; wrong method." But His followers were thrown into an uproar when they realized he was not meeting their hopes as they had expected. Even Peter, close as he was to his friend the Savior, used futile Maccabean methods to the end to act out his deep-seated expectations for the way the Kingdom would come.

To all the sentinel hearts out there, longing to see things set right, I give this kind and repeated revelation: "Right desire; wrong method." Memphis has a messiah, and while the anglicized version of his name IS Joshua, his last name is not Pastner (although I do pray he would lead us to a championship win soon) The luster of a title will soon wear off and people will resume their disdain for all things Memphian. We will see mayors and coaches come and go, but ultimate deliverance is in the hands of our Almighty God, who gave us the way of peacemaking to prepare for His triumphal and final entry to rule His kingdom, soon and very soon. And THAT will be our “One [eternally] Shining Moment.”

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