Puzzling Through: Just A Slice

               On Sunday November 5th, the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals met in their first NFL game following Damar Hamlin’s collapse on the field in January.  After what looked like a routine play by both teams, Damar stood up and then fell.  Medical personnel began caring for him immediately, and after he was stabilized, he was rushed to the hospital.  Players and coaches from both teams, as well as fans, knelt in prayer.  The good news is that Damar was able to receive the medical care he needed.  He has already played a few times this season.

               Before that night, I am not sure if anyone outside the team and the loyal Bills fan base knew who Damar Hamlin was.  At the time, like most NFL players, Damar had a charity to raise money for toys for children.  He set a goal of $2,500 for the year. After his collapse on the field, the fund received over $8 million, along with prayers and messages of support for Damar’s recovery.

               Over the Summer, Damar began to consider new ways to make a difference.  He now sponsors CPR training and awareness as a result of those generous donations.  The team’s ambulance displays his jersey.   He continues to find ways to raise awareness of essential medical support for athletes of all ages.

               I honestly can’t tell you much about Damar’s college or high school career or when he was drafted by the Bills.  Like most of the country, I only became aware of him when he collapsed on January 2, 2023.  But from those slices of his life, I am able to see how he has been inspired to make a difference in the lives of others.

               As Advent approaches, we will begin to share how our Lord became one of us in order to save us.  The four Gospels provide us with many details of Jesus life and how his ministry changed and continues to change the world.  And yet, these moments are just a slice of who our Savior is. 

               Parts of Jesus’ life are not included in any of the Gospels. What was his life like while his family lived in Egypt? What items did they take back to Nazareth with them when it was safe for them to return? What happened in Jesus’ life after his visit to the Temple? If he met with his cousin John prior to that moment in the Nile River, what did they talk about? Or more importantly, what didn’t they talk about? If he apprenticed with Joseph, was he a good carpenter?

               These are not the slices of our Savior’s life that we relive and remember through the Gospel narratives.  We have wondrous accounts of how Jesus transformed the world by who he was and what he did.  Through the authors of the four Gospels, we become witnesses to all that Jesus did as he walked among us.  Miracles of healing and feeding, calling persons from the margins to become his disciples and those he sent out to spread the Good News, parables that changed the letter of the law, while affirming the spirit of the law are only a few of the ways that Jesus brought a new light into the world and into our lives. 

               As we gather in our worship spaces, over the next several weeks, I invite and encourage each of us to tell the story of how our Savior is the greatest gift of all. Let’s take time to unwrap God’s amazing present of love and of love everlasting.  And Amen.

East Winds District