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March Madness is here!

It is not a reference to the weather, although we had measurable snowfall in Chicago this week which we didn’t have in January or February. That’s madness!

It is not a reference to the fact that Friday is St. Patrick’s Day, which in the Chicago area is madness.

It is a reference to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which starts today (I am writing this on Thursday morning).  Employees are absent. Half-days are worked. Computers are tuned in. At some workplaces employers have decided to acknowledge the obvious and they have large screen televisions tuned in to the games.

People are studying regular season results, injury reports, and filling out brackets for various pools.  Former President Obama always filled out a bracket in a televised ceremony.  I haven’t heard if President Trump will do so.

I am one of those people who is addicted to March Madness. I have filled out brackets for years. I will watch as many games as possible (within reason, or Becky thinks unreasonably). I will keep track of my progress on my bracket sheet, circling winners in red and crossing out losers.

My picks aren’t that scientific. I pick with a combination of my mind and heart. I use results from the regular season and try to keep track of who was playing best toward the end, going in to the tournament.  I combine that with my favorite coaches (Mike Kryzyzewski of Duke and Tom Izzo of Michigan State). I have Duke going all the way this year, but Michigan State losing early in the tournament because their play has been so inconsistent.

I won’t pick any team coached by a Pitino (Louisville and Minnesota) or a Calipari (Kentucky). It is a character issue for me. Rick Pitino heads a program at Louisville that arranged for prostitutes to meet with recruits.  e claims no knowledge of that taking place.  aybe he needs to pay close attention to his assistant coaches!   am not proud of the fact that I paint his son, the head coach at Minnesota, with the same brush, but I do.  ohn Calipari had to vacate national championships that he won at other schools due to recruiting violations.

I am in two pools with friends.  either of them have cash rewards, only bragging rights.

I pick some upsets in early rounds, but after round 2, I usually pick the higher seeded teams.

In some ways, March Madness mirrors my spiritual practices.

I study and read the word using a variety or resources as my guides.

I listen to what God is saying to me and do my best to be obedient to those directions.

I embrace biblical character traits and values, seeking to be a model for others.

I have feelings about faith, but ultimately I know that I am transformed by the renewal of my mind.

I keep track of my progress, especially during the season of Lent. What is God doing in me?  Where am I resistant? Where are my blind spots?  How am I missing the mark?

It’s March Madness...enjoy!

~ Rev