One of the reasons I don’t golf is that on one of the two occasions that I did, I heard one of the people golfing with me say, “Nice Shot!” I knew it wasn’t, and he then quietly added, “we won’t bother to try and find that ball. You can have a mulligan.” I am familiar enough with golfing terminology to know that a mulligan is a kind of second chance, except that the first chance is still counted as a stroke, or point against you. I think too, that a mulligan is only offered once.
In the playground of my childhood there was a better kind of second chance and it was called a “do-over.” It was better for a number of reasons, but mostly because the first try is never counted against you. If, for example, your first shot went awry the polite thing for your opponent to do is to offer a do-over. If he or she doesn’t make the offer then the only answer to the question, can I have a do-over, is “yes.” Every child in my playground knew these rules and abided by them. And a do-over is given as often as it’s needed. Cool, eh?
A do-over is a great way to learn a new skill. It is also a great rule to bring to life.
In Tic-Tac-Toe the rule is further refined. The skilled player says to the unskilled player, “Do you really want to make that move?” Two skilled players render the game dull and dreary because every game ends in a tie. It is therefore the role of the skilled player to teach the unskilled player a life lesson about strategy, not building character through losing.
The life instructions found in the scriptures are a kind of do-you-really-want-to-make-that-move statement from God. Should we choose to make the move anyway God will not grant us a mulligan but a do-over. A much better offer and nothing will be counted against us.
We have heard that some people have been hurt and frustrated by things that have happened at St. Paul’s Church over the years. To respond openly and honestly to these frustrations we hope that people will express themselves to me and the Wardens before January 31, 2011. If confidentiality is desired then pastoral care will be offered by the clergy of the parish. In February 2011 there will be a service of Reconciliation and Healing for the whole congregation.
From time to time we need more than a mulligan; we need a do-over.