Out of curiosity more than anything else, I was watching the “starless” Spurs basketball game the other night, just to see what the future roster looked like on the floor. I thought they put up a courageous front and showed some great potential. As I watched one of the Spurs players at the free-throw line, I noticed in the seats behind the basket, all the distracting white foam tubes waving in the air, combined with all the noise the fans could muster, and I had one of those childhood flashbacks.
I had to be only eight or nine at the time based on the history of the people involved, which put my brother about 15. I don’t remember all the people involved, but my brother wanted to go to Syracuse University to watch a Harlem Globetrotters exhibition game. I had no interest in this, but I suspect our mom allowed the trip as long as I was tagged to my brother’s shirttail. I can’t remember the trip to Syracuse, probably because not only did my brother not want a tag-along, I probably didn’t want to go in the first place. I do remember sitting in the nosebleed section among friends of my brother’s and seeing this player who stood head and shoulders above everyone, named Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, at 7 feet tall, 300 pounds.
Well, at every exhibition game, the home crowd, the sixth man thing, would do everything it could to distract the virtually unbeatable Globetrotters, giving an edge to the home team. Someone among the friends had brought a small cowbell to heckle the visitors, but was too timid to use it. Before I knew it, I had the bell in my hand and was being instructed to ring it as loudly as possible when told to do so. Totally ignorant of the flow of the game, basketball didn’t have wheels on it or a loud engine, and only amazed at the size of the crowd and the basketball players, I gathered no purpose of ringing this bell until I became the center of attraction in the immediate area and eventually throughout the arena. I was rather short in stature and easily hidden when the bell attracted too much attention from the floor, which became a part of the game. I soon caught on that when the Trotters were at the free-throw line, it was time to make noise, and fun was had by all.
It’s funny how memories can pop up like that, and I do remember riding the last few miles home in a Greyhound bus, only because my brother woke me up, still laughing his head off.
[Psalm 64; Matthew 27: 11-26] The psalmist writes, “Hear me, O God, as I voice my complaint; protect me from the threat of the enemy. Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the noisy crowd of evildoers. They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows.” As the psalmist continues, he writes about how the righteous deal daily with the world in fear. Even though the worldly ones think they are devising “perfect plans” in secrecy, God knows and will deal with the problem. “... Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; let all the upright in heart praise him.” Jesus had to deal with huge crowds that followed him everywhere, throughout his ministry of 3-1/2 years. He taught; He healed the sick, the crippled, the blind, the deaf, and more; He fed them by the thousands and performed so many miracles John writes: “If they were all written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25). Yet, in God’s plan of sacrificial rite for the redemption of the sins of man the crowd traded Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and Barabbas, a worthless scoundrel. Sad!
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