Socially Conversant

As you already know, our family went to the NFL Experience earlier this week. This is the first time the Super Bowl has been in Indy and the whole city has gone a little crazy. Since I wrote that post several days ago, I have heard from many of you, weighing in on whether or not you enjoyed mixing withe the masses in downtown Indianapolis. I am not a big fan of crowds, but enjoyed the fact that our grandchildren really had a grand time, along with Janet and our oldest daughter Kristin. However, if I had been the faced with the decision about going, without regard to what other people would have done, I would have been conflicted.

On one hand, I would be apprehensive of the crowds and my first inclination would have been to stay away. However, in a moment or so I would have thought about the fact that this is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity; and that I really had to be a part of it, as I may never have the chance again. Whenever Janet and I face this choice, we refer to the Andy rule…..

You see, when we were in our late twenties, Janet and I lived in Inverness, IL; in a neighborhood where we were the youngest family. Our next door neighbor, Florian, owned a foundry; Ed O’Bradovich, the famous defensive end for the Chicago Bears lived across the street on the corner, and the neighbor directly across the street was the former Executive VP of United Airlines, Andy. Although we knew all our neighbors, and the O’Bradovich children babysat for our kids, Andy was my favorite.

He was a kindly gentleman who was retired from the airlines industry. I didn’t know that when we first met him. In fact, other than the famous football player across the street, we didn’t know what any of our neighbors did. Until one day when Andy was out at the street, applying bright strips of adhesive to his mailbox. When I inquired of another neighbor why Andy, this Brooks Brothers conservative man, was putting such bright colors on his mailbox, I was informed that it was for the safety of our family……

Of course, I was puzzled. Well, it turned out the the very first letter bomb had been delivered to the President of United Airlines the day before; and Andy thought he may be the second target. So, he put the United colors on his mailbox to make sure that if he was next, the bomber would plant the device in the right place; and not in our mailbox, which was next to his.

I was in awe of the gesture. He never said a word about his intentions or ever answered any questions I asked him about the incident. He never received a threatening package. But his concern for our family was something that altered the way I felt about him. We took walks together, I learned about literature from him, and as odd as it seems, to slow down a little. His wife, Pauline, always asked me to decorate the front of our home with lights each holiday season, so she could enjoy them from her living room, and we all became fast friends, even though they were much older than we were.

I could tell that Andy had been a real force in the industry – but a gentle man at heart. He named his dog Strider, after a character in the trilogy “Lord of the Rings” and we engaged in great philosophical discussions. One day, he informed me that he had gone to see E.T. when the movie first came out. I almost laughed out loud. I had no intention of seeing it and I couldn’t believe that something like that fantasy film would appeal to Andy.

He let me know that my perception was correct. He really had no desire to attend a showing of the film, but as a contributing member of society, he believed that he had a responsibility to be “socially conversant” about the movie. He said that since people would be talking about it, he had a duty to go see it so he could have an informed opinion, one way or the other, about such a groundbreaking, talked about film. He was right, as always… It was our deep respect for Andy that ultimately led to our naming of our own son, Andrew, after him. It was a decision that Janet and I still think about to this day.

That’s because when something like the Super Bowl comes to town, we have a responsibility, as contributing members of society, to be part of the experience and to form an opinion one way or the other about the whole thing. There’s no right or wrong answer here, just the necessity to be socially conversant; and for that, we are forever grateful. So, when we are thinking about whether we wish to do something, we pass it through the Andy filter. Our decision is based upon what we come up with. Dumb as it may sound this has worked for us for more than 3 decades. And we get the added bonus of thinking about Andrew every time we remember Andy.

I can’t help but be reminded of another event where people were in awe of what was happening – and that was at Pentecost, after the ascension of Christ to heaven. We are told by Luke in the book of Acts that all the people were together, wondering what was happening. After the appearance of the Holy Spirit, anointing them, we are told in Acts 2:42-45, “Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”

More than 3000 people were baptized and it must have been some experience – the birth of the church as we know it. And to thing that all those people were now “socially conversant”. What a shame it would have been to miss it…..

My encouragement tonight is to let you know that God wants you to experience Him in a way that you have never encountered before. And He wants you to lead others to Him as well. My prayer is that you will be more than socially conversant when it comes to knowledge of the Father. That you will dedicate yourself to a lifetime of study and prayer in an effort to continue to be drawn closer to God. He wants you to be socially conversant – with Him. Have a great day in the Lord…..

 
 
 
 

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