Tuesday, May 12, 2020

What were those odds again?

Ok, I just had to get to this right away while the memory is still fresh in my mind.  If you've been following my posts, you will recall the Monday, April 20th blog entitled "What are the odds?" (You can review it here if you don't remember it.)  The short summary of that blog was that I really believed I was due to get a hole in one.  I wasn't arrogant about it (at least, I don't think I was).  It was just a matter-of-fact statistical look at the odds of any one golfer getting a hole in one.  At the end of the blog, I promised I would post when I got that hole in one to let you know it happened.

Well, today it happened!!  I was at #10 at Great Life Worthington Golf Course (which is the hole I had previously shown in that April 20th blog).  I was alone, but #10 is right next to the clubhouse - there is always someone nearby.  I had just played up #9 with Rick Dalrymple and another fellow, but they elected to stop for today after nine.  Rick said something about having to mow the lawn.  I told him he needed to get his priorities in line.

I will try to make this sound like a golf announcer: "#10 is a short par three that requires accuracy and a deft touch to a saddle style green.  Today, it's about 105 yards, very little wind - I see Daren is ready to hit his shot.  He has a nine iron.  The crowd is very silent - almost don't know that they are here.  The shot is on the way.  It is right on line with the pin.  Does he have enough?  Ohhh!  It hit the pin!  Dead straight!  But where did it go?  I didn't see it anywhere!  I heard the ball strike the pin - the only thing I can think of is that it's in!  It's in the hole!  Daren has a hole in one!  What a fantastic shot!  I believe that is Daren's first career hole in one!  And look at his response...the crowd is going wild..."

That's about how I might have imagined it had anyone been able to see it actually go into the hole.  I shouted "It went in!!  Did anyone see that?  It went in the hole!!"  I looked around and no one really heard me because there was no one there to hear me, except one guy who was preparing to go out on #1.  He came over and I told him what had happened.  He didn't see it, but he said that the golf pro was putting golf carts in the garage to recharge them.  Ben came out and I told him the same thing.  He said "Well go and get it"  and I said "Yeah, but someone has to verify it."  (After all, who is going to believe a pastor who is playing alone that he got a hole in one?)  Ben (the golf pro) said he'd watch me, but just don't have any golf balls in my pocket when I went to retrieve the ball.  Must have been golf pro humor.

I got into the cart and drove down to the green.  I cannot remember the last time excited and golf were used in the same sentence for me.  I walked over to the green and sure enough - there was my Titleist 3 wedged in the hole between the blue wrap that was installed for COVID 19 protection and the side of the hole.  I pulled the ball out and showed it triumphantly to Ben and the other guy.  I pumped my fist in the air and let out another shout "Yeah!!! Yes!!" I shouted.  It's not really polite to yell on the golf course, but who would care?  I drove back to the tee and Ben took my picture next to the tee box.  

It all happened so quickly.  But I was brought down to earth on the next hole with a triple bogey 7, but who cares?  Not me.  I didn't know what I was doing the rest of the round.  The odds of my getting a hole in one were 1 in 12,500 or something like that.  All I know is that it happened.

I was due!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Social Media Distancing

Since sometime in mid-March, the world as we understood it changed.  Almost overnight.  Life came to a standstill.  People and businesses and governments were paralyzed by a great unknown.  Everyone's lives were impacted - no one has been exempt from the shut down, stay at home, wear your masks in public, keep your distance to six feet, learn how to use your computer, device or smartphone better world we have discovered.

You've heard so many takes on this topic - trust me - I'm not sharing this blog with you to spin another frustration or perspective on any of the above items.  I'm wondering about one thing and one thing only... in the midst of making all of these changes, has the message I hope to bring to people been somehow circumvented by all of the technology I've had to use?

I think it is a fair question.  I'd love to say at first glance, no - not only no, but heavens no!  What choices did I have - did the church of today have?  Many of us had to learn how to use this technology and learn how to use it quickly.  I am so grateful that the leadership at First UMC embraced the move we made last fall to begin live streaming... I know that made our transition a whole lot easier.  I am so grateful that our leadership in Emmanuel and Adrian Church were willing to dabble in using video before we really needed to use video.  And I am ever so grateful for the many volunteers who have learned how to help with the media tech at First Church - running the projection program, adjusting the sound quality that is being sent out to various destinations (internet sites, monitors, nursery, and others), and being able to use the camera to project the worship service into the homes of many people.  In fact, if we were to center on numbers for a moment, we are reaching more persons now than ever through the various social media outlets we have available.

But numbers are not really the focal point.  I'm trying to imagine what we might have done differently if we still had only the rotary phone, pen and paper, radio and a megaphone to work with.  Those were the social media tools from the past.  They come from the age I grew up in and if we only had those things to go forward with, I'm convinced we would have made it work... somehow.

The point I'm trying to make is this: no matter what generational venue we are in, we still have to find a way to communicate.  This is especially true for the church in striving to convey the message of the grace of God and how it extends to all people, specifically when we are going through such difficult times.  My hope is that the technology we use never gets in the way of the message we bring.  I'm glad that the Lord has given us these tools to use and hopefully we will continue to use them to His glory.