Eleventh Day of Christmass
John 9:1-12, 35-38
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”[c] 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
Jack, Coach and Neighbor
For the many who saw the movie “Friday Night Lights” or the TV series by the same name, you have had a small glimpse into the world of Texas high school football. When a parishioner asked me if I had seen the TV show, I remarked: “My wife and I lived it” She and I were band kids, whose Augusts and autumns were marked by practice, practice, practice for half-time show at the Friday night football games. Whether we played military marches or popular tunes for the twirlers’ routines, we band kids helped to provide school spirit and energy for the people in the stands and the players on the field. When a drive was going well, older men in the stands might yell: “Play ‘Horse,”” a rousing tune with lots of brass and percussion.
Say the name “Coach Mac” to guys my age and older, and grins show up on the faces of men, who still have that purple and white or purple and gray football letter jacket in their hall closets. They remember miserable two-a-day practices in Texas heat, for which many of them prepared by hauling hay during June and July. Coach Mac’s teams never won a state championship competing against much larger schools from the Dallas area in the same AAA (now AAAA) division. But two of his teams went deep into the playoffs and sent All-State players to major college football programs and a few to the pros.
I knew Jack on a more personal level. He lived across the street. His daughter Karen and I were born two days apart. In the summer months before two-a-day workouts began, Coach Mac ran a summer activities program for the town. I would ride with him in the Air Force surplus cars or jeeps the school district gave him to drive. We would go to the old bus barn located by the old football stadium, and he would drive a busload of kids to the Bonham State Park. There, he taught us about the buddy system when we were in the lake. Coach Mac would periodically blow the whistle. If you couldn’t grab your buddy’s hand and hold up your arms together, you had to get out of the water and wait on your towel until the next whistle.
Football coaches in Texas keep moving up until they find a town in which they want to raise their families, and many of them become administrators, even superintendents, and, occasionally, college professors. Coach Mac’s health began to fail in the years after his most successful deep run into the playoffs. He took an administrative job in the school district office. Jack often had long conversations with my father about God and life, and when my Dad died, Jack was a pallbearer. In the two years after my father died, Jack’s health grew worse. My mother noticed it before his wife Pat. When Jack died, Mom knew how to be a friend to the newly widowed. Mom had been widowed at 53. Pat was in her early 40s.
Today, Coach Mac’s name is on the “new” high school stadium that was built during my high school years. He is a local legend. No Bonham High School football coach has ever assembled as strong a staff or developed as fine a program as Coach Mac. He was a great coach, but he was a better man.
Dear Father, thank you for Jack and all the coaches, who care about shaping the entire lives of children and youth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS
St Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.