Advent 8: Reindeer Games

This morning I was singing along with the radio when the Rudolph song came on. And I got stuck on how the other reindeers wouldn’t let Rudolph play because he was different…weird.

I get Rudolph. I get how that must have hurt.

I am in Arizona visiting my mom. While we are together we play Scrabble practically non-stop. In the week that I have been here we have played over 50 games. We laugh and talk, philosophize, and try to solve the ills of mankind.

We often say that you can learn a lot about life from the game of Scrabble. You have to wait your turn. It helps to be flexible when someone takes the place you were about to play your hundred point word. There are times when you win and there are times you lose–but it’s all about playing the game.

I play Scrabble because I enjoy it. That’s why I play any of the games I play. It’s for fun. But it isn’t that way for everyone.

You know the kind of folks I’m talking about. Their face has probably popped into your mind’s eye. They are cut-throat. They can’t loose. They sandbag. They count cards. Winning is everything. It’s like a drug for them. And the worst thing is that they make you feel less than worthless when you lose.

Worse than Rudolph.

So what do games have to do with Advent…other than they make for a great Christmas gift?

It has a lot to do with how we treat people. In one of my favorite books, The Red Sea Rules, one of the lessons from the account of the Hebrews crossing the Red Sea is that it’s not always about us. God put them in that place, in that time, for his glory to be revealed. Jesus picks up on this when he raises Lazurus.

It’s not always about us.

One time I had the joy of playing Scrabble with my former choir director. She was in an assisted living situation and her memory was not what it once was. I could have easily ran the score up–but what purpose would it have served? What mattered was the time we could share together.

It is so easy to get focused on ourselves: where we need to be, what we need to do, and what is important and urgent for us. To say this affects how we “play the game” of life is quite an understatement.

Take stock of your attitude and relationality. A wise mentor gave me a good guide to go by for this: would you rather be right or related? Can you let someone else win the game?

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