Game - Monday Musing, February 14, 2022

Dear Church,


Game.A form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck. We all love to watch a good game. It doesn’t matter what sports team is playing (although we do have our favorites). If a game is exciting, we are mesmerized and engaged. It can be baseball, basketball, or football; it doesn’t matter. We all love sports (many of us). Yesterday’s Super Bowl had a projected viewership of 117 million. There can’t possibly be that many Rams and Bengals fans alone; clearly many others are tuning in (maybe to see the commercials or the half-time show?). Perhaps yesterday’s audience proves the point that people love watching a good game.


Games are not a modern invention, something to keep people interested in buying wings, chips, and beer. Games have been around for as long as human history records. Some would say that games are not a frivolous pursuit, but rather the fabric that makes an essential part of being alive. We grow up playing games with our family and our friends, not just organized sports in school. There are so many games – board games, video games, cards, and pool, to name a few; it’s not just organized ball games that draw people to gather and engage in competition.


Take dice, for example. Dice are not a modern invention for casinos. In fact, they are probably among the oldest gaming tools known to humankind. During an excavation in Iran, archeologists discovered a 3,000-year-old set of dice! During the times of Jesus, the King’s Game was played with sheep’s knuckles as dice, and they would roll those dice on a playing board. The soldiers would pick one of their own and make him the “king,” give him a robe, crown, etc. During the course of the day the soldiers would gamble for all of the opponent’s possessions – clothes, wife, home back in Rome, etc., culminating in gambling for who got to kill him.

The Sisters of Zion Convent in Jerusalem’s Old City is both a pilgrimage destination and an archaeological site. It is located on the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows, between the 2nd and 3rd Stations of the Cross, where some believe Pontius Pilate presented Jesus to the masses. The convent is most famous for housing the Lithostrotos – “Stone Pavement” – referred to in the Gospel of John as the site of Jesus’ condemnation. It is more likely that Pilate judged Jesus at Herod the Great’s palace on the site of the modern Citadel inside the Jaffa Gate. The Lithostrotos is a fascinating place to visit, if only to see the flagstones, where the drawing of a board game is etched into the stone.


Whatever your sport or game, we are in good company. If you are one of the 117 million people who watched yesterday’s Super Bowl, perhaps you are bleary-eyed and won’t be reading this Monday Musing until later in the day! :-) See you in church.


Faithfully,

Darren

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