Saturday, May 5, 2007

And They're Off

"In the spring a young man's fancy
lightly turns to thoughts of love"
-- a line from "Locksley Hall"
a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Also in the Spring, on the first Saturday in May, a native Kentuckian's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of Churchill Downs and the fastest two minutes in sports. I'm speaking of course of the 133rd Kentucky Derby, the first leg in Triple-Crown Racing. This year I'm rooting for Storm in May, a one-eyed colt who has already earned ten times the price his owners paid for him. Last year Barbero won. I was sad when he pulled up lame.

Even though I lived in Louisville for almost five years, I have never been at the Churchill Downs on Derby Day for two good reasons: 1) the stands are packed-out and you practically have to inherit a ticket unless you desire to camp in the infield; and 2) at a Derby party with friends you can watch the race on TV and actually know what is happening.

I have been at Churchill Downs on occasions other than Derby Day. Once I was with a group standing near the fence. We were positioned at a point just beyond the backstretch. By some blessed happenstance the track officials brought the starting gate around the track and put it right in front of us. We watched as they loaded the horses into the gate and locked them in. Then there was a very loud bell and the track announcer's voice: "And they're off."

Did you ever see horses come out of the starting gate? They leap several feet and land in the soft dirt of the track, literally "hitting the ground running." I thought when they landed that I had felt a minor earthquake. Those powerful, beautiful creatures were giving the race all they had. It's too bad that only one horse comes out of the race a winner. In my estimation, the very fact that those horses got into the race makes them all winners.

Although we are not horses, the Christian race has a few similarities to the Derby. We are being observed and maybe watched closely by a crowd of people. But unlike the Derby, we all win just for running the race. I like to think that the communion of saints in heaven are in some sort of grandstand, watching and cheering us onward. In light of that thought, I offer these verses from Hebrews 12:1-2:

Therefore, since we are surrounded
by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside every weight
and the sin that clings so closely,
and let us run with perseverance
the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the pioneer
and perfecter of our faith,
who for the sake of the joy
that was set before him endured the cross,
disregarding its shame,
and has taken his seat at the
right hand of the throne of God.

When it comes time to begin weekly worship services as The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek, I hope we can all get into the starting gate and hit the ground running. Love is all around, and the world is watching. No pressure.


Linda +
The Rev. Linda McCloud
Founding Pastor
The Episcopal Church of Our Savior at Honey Creek

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