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     Sermons | Passionate worship

    This sermon was preached by the Rev. Keith Cardwell at Swift Presbyterian Church.

    Feb. 23, 2020 | Transfiguration Sunday

    There’s No Crying in Baseball
    Psalm 42

    ■ Eighth sermon in the 2020 Vision series

     T OM HANKS PLAYED an uninspired former Cubs slugger Jimmy Dugan in the movie A League of Their Own. The movie details the rising of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Major League Baseball is struggling during World War II, so the Chicago Cubs owner starts a women’s league of eight baseball teams, one of which is the Rockford [Illinois] Peaches.

    During one game, Dugan approaches right-fielder Evelyn Gardner and proceeds to ask why she made a particular play in the outfield. He, not so gently, blames Evelyn for costing the Peaches the lead. Evelyn begins to cry, and Tom Hanks delivers an iconic line: “There’s no crying in baseball!”

    † † †

    SOME OF YOU are old enough to remember Edmund Muskie’s 1972 presidential campaign. A few weeks before the New Hampshire primary, the Manchester newspaper ran a scathing piece implying that Muskie’s wife took an unladylike pleasure in drinking and telling jokes. During a morning snowstorm, with shoulders heaving and voice breaking, Muskie called the publisher a “gutless coward” for attacking his wife.

    National newspaper reporters wrote that Muskie wept (Muskie said it was melted snow). Voters wondered if Muskie had the strength and composure to run the nation. It was the beginning of the end of Edmund Muskie’s presidential run. Evidently, there’s no crying in politics either.

    † † †

    IN OUR “2020 VISION” SERIES, we’ve looked at physical reasons for blurred vision. Blurred eyesight can be caused by dry eyes. At its basic, the way to prevent dry eyes is to produce tears. Tears lubricate and protect eyes from irritation.

    Many people have been told that tears are a sign of weakness. They have been told that crying is a sign of lack of courage. And we tend to buy into this. We apologize for crying when we hear a song that reminds us of a departed loved one. We hide our weeping behind closed doors and put on a happy face in public.

    But crying does not make you weak. Neither does it make you strong. It is just an indication that you are deeply connected with something and that connection is true and powerful.

    † † †

    THE FIRST MENTION of ‘tears’ in the Bible is King Hezekiah weeping (2 Kings 20:5). He is deathly ill. He cries out to the Lord; pleading for his life. The Lord “sees his tears,” we are told, and adds years to the king’s life. The last mention of ‘tears’ in the Bible is a more pleasant picture. In Revelation (21:4) “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” In between, many tears are shed by men and women; by sinners and saints.

    There are tears of pain, grief, or sorrow. Today’s reading:

    My tears have been my food
        day and night,
    while people say to me all day long,
        “Where is your God?”

    Tears demonstrate the grief that made the psalmist long for relief in God.

    † † †

    EVEN THE SHORTEST VERSE in the Bible tells of tears of grief.

    “Jesus wept.”

    Jesus cries at the grave of his friend, Lazarus. It is natural to cry in grief and pain. A child cries after falling and skinning a knee. A tear drops fall at the end of a relationship. Crying at the death of a spouse. Jesus gives us permission to cry.

    There are tears of repentance. Jesus is at the home of a religious leader. A sinful woman enters. She cries. Sobs really. Enough tears to wash Jesus’s feet. Jesus tells her that her sins are forgiven. (Luke 7)

    † † †

    HAVE YOU EVER BEEN so convicted of your behavior that you burst out in tears? Your behavior has hurt your parents so badly that a flood of tears accompanies your regret and apology? Have you fallen on your knees before our Savior and sobbed over sin in your life? Our tears are seen by God and our sins are forgiven.

    And there are tears of joy. A surgeon comes and says the life-saving operation is a success. You receive an acceptance letter to the school of your desires. Some of you might question if you’ll ever cry for joy again. Life is hard. Pain is present. Grief is more than you can bear. A few hours before Jesus was betrayed, tried, beaten, and crucified, he told his disciples, “you will weep and mourn…. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” (John 16:20). Sorrow and sighing will flee. Tears will dry up. Grief will lose its grip.

    Maybe that sounds impossible. Maybe you wonder, “How could sorrow, heartache, grief ever give way to joy?” That’s all right if you can’t understand the how right now. Believing that God will turn our tears into shouts of joy does not mean that we no longer grieve. It means that we cling to him through the pain.

    † † †

    THERE’S A STORY of an angel sent to earth with orders to bring back to the most precious thing she can find. She searches from north to south, east to west. From the heights of the mountains to the depths of the sea. Is it a gold nugget, a flawless pearl?

    The angel searches and searches. Finally, she hears someone crying. Pouring their heart out to God.

    The angel says to herself: “Ah, that’s it. I have found it.” The angel holds out her hand and catches the flowing tears. She flies back to heaven and presents the tears to the Father — proclaiming that ‘tears’ are the most precious thing on earth.

    — Keith Cardwell   

    «Crying does not make you weak. Neither does it make you strong. It is just an indication that you are deeply connected with something and that connection is true and powerful.»

    SCRIPTURE FOR THE DAY

    ►This is the Word of God for the people of God:


    Psalm 42[a][b]
    Holy Bible, New International Version


    For the director of music.
    A maskil
    [c] of the Sons of Korah.

    1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
        so my soul pants for you, my God.

    2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
        When can I go and meet with God?

    3 My tears have been my food
        day and night,
    while people say to me all day long,
        “Where is your God?”

    4 These things I remember
        as I pour out my soul:
    how I used to go to the house of God
        under the protection of the Mighty One
    [d]
    with shouts of joy and praise
        among the festive throng.

    5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
        Why so disturbed within me?
    Put your hope in God,
        for I will yet praise him,
        my Savior and my God.

    6 My soul is downcast within me;
        therefore I will remember you
    from the land of the Jordan,
        the heights of Hermon — from Mount Mizar.

    7 Deep calls to deep
        in the roar of your waterfalls;
    all your waves and breakers
        have swept over me.

    8 By day the Lord directs his love,
        at night his song is with me—
        a prayer to the God of my life.

    9 I say to God my Rock,
        “Why have you forgotten me?
    Why must I go about mourning,
        oppressed by the enemy?”

    10 My bones suffer mortal agony
        as my foes taunt me,
    saying to me all day long,
        “Where is your God?”

    11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
        Why so disturbed within me?
    Put your hope in God,
        for I will yet praise him,
        my Savior and my God.

    — This is the Word of the Lord.
    — Thanks be to God.


    Footnotes:

    a.  Psalm 42:1  In many Hebrew manuscripts Psalms 42 and 43 constitute one psalm.
    b.  Psalm 42:1  In Hebrew texts 42:1–11 is numbered 42:2–12.
    c.  Psalm 42:1  Title: Probably a literary or musical term
    d.  Psalm 42:4  See Septuagint and Syriac; the meaning of the Hebrew for this line is uncertain.


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