“You guys let us all down,” said the the alumnus to the underclassman. “You dropped the baton, know what I mean?” We had just finished a very mediocre season, not too bad by some standards, but terrible in the light of such a winning tradition, such a history of athletic excellence as our school had. The previous football teams had achieved two undefeated seasons within a five year period just prior to our letdown season. There were many reasons for our failure that didn’t all rest on the players, but most of them probably did. There was a lack of strong and respected leadership. We hadn’t operated as a single unit, either on or off the field, and a new coach was not able to instill in us that kind of passion and spirit. So one friend who had paid the high price for excellence took it upon himself to say in all honesty to his younger friend who had not paid such a high price, “You guys blew it, the honor and reputation we worked and sweated for, all dribbled and drained away.” He didn’t rub it in any deeper though, to his credit. Rather he left it for his friend to contemplate, if he were so inclined. Maybe he could learn something from it.
There are regular reunions scheduled for the two undefeated teams who performed in the seven year period immediately preceding our losing season. Oddly enough, one of the members of our squad attends one of those reunions, though he was not a member of that team and did not contribute in any way to their success. It seems he just desperately wants and needs to be associated with winners. He apparently feels no shame over the fact that he is the only one who doesn’t belong there, and probably no one has the heart to tell him that to his face. In that way the actual members of the team demonstrate a graciousness, willing to allow the misfit to coast into the ongoing celebration on their coattails.
Let us not have to hear those kinds of words of stern rebuke and disappointment that I heard from my older friend when we hear from our forefathers and ancestors who laid down their lives and fortunes for the sake of the liberties we still enjoy here in these “United” States of America. Even after much erosion of those liberties in recent days and decades, we still enjoy most of them. Let us do all we can to perpetuate and preserve what was handed down to us as a sacred trust. Whether that means making a phone call, sending an email, showing up at a local meeting, speaking up and taking a stand. Certainly it means praying and giving financially as we are able as well as volunteering when and where we can and deem it appropriate and timely. Saving liberty means preserving personal virtue, Samuel Rutherford would remind us. Let us have something of value left to hand to our own children and grandchildren, some precious legacy to offer. God help us not to be the pretenders and imposters at the celebration feast. May we be there because we belong there, not as ones to whom others must feel the need to condescend. And if we fail, at least let us fail fighting, but not fail AT fighting. Amen.