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‘The children will lead us: JRW is the norm, not the exception’

By Chinta Strausberg

If we all could be like the Jackie Robinson West (JRW) team and practice their eight principles of life, this would be a better world and we would be better Christians, but be clear these 13 African American boys “are the norm” in the black community and not the exception, Father Michael L. Pfleger said Sunday.

The altar of the Saint Sabina Church was adorned with a bust dressed in a JRW uniform and cap, a bat, a baseball and a catcher’s mitt along with a sign that said, “Jackie Robinson West, 2014, National Champions.”

It was a signal that Sunday would be yet another day to pay honor to the black South Side baseball league Pfleger credited with the city and the nation–a team he says has taught every one at least eight valuable lessons. Their home training, character and sports skill even though they had less equipment than all the teams proved that “champions are not bought. They are made.”

But, before going into his sermon, Father Pfleger made an altar call asking those to come forth who were at a crossroads in their life.

While the nation is still “glowing” from the victory of the JRW’s victory in winning the National Little League World Series who had been obviously well-trained by their parents, Father Pfleger dubbed his sermon “Lessons From the Children of JRW.” “A child shall lead them.”

The eight lessons the JRW team taught America was:

1)   They made a choice to try out for the JRW team.

2)   They learned and knew their positions.

3)   They knew success demands the wisdom to plan the game beyond their skills and knew when to hit a ball because every swing was not for them.

4)   The success of JRW was their ability to play as a team.

5)   The art of JRW and how they studied their opponents.

6)   JRW was tenacious and enduring.

7)   JRW displayed character. JRW took the less than and turned it into a greater than moment

8)   JRW did what no ones could, cause this city to unify and spoke highly about their character.

Standing before a bust dressed in the JRW yellow uniform, a baseball cap and a catcher’s mitt, Father Pfleger said the lessons of this team caused the entire world to praise 13 “little black boys from the South Side of Chicago” including one white southern woman he heard who also praised their athletic and character talents.

Pfleger said, “True success demands commitment” but warned, “When you play out of position, you have chaos. ”Quoting the bible, Pfleger said, “We are all gifted, but if you have a mean-spirit, you don’t need to be in hospitality (ministry). Sit your mean self down somewhere.  If you can’t speak without being nervous, then you don’t need to be a lecture….”

Picking up the bat, Father Pfleger said, “If you can’t dance…I know I cannot do that stuff because I would not move you into worship. I would take you out of worship.

What the JRW team-taught us, Pfleger said, is to “join a team, demonstrate the willingness, commitment and training” he said is needed to learn the fundamentals of the sport.

“Most folks,” he said, “don’t want to go the fundamental” route. Some would rather play “alley ball” Pfleger said “is good but you won’t become a champion. But by joining a team,” you have to make a commitment to learn the fundamentals. “Most folks don’t like to go through the fundamentals. Most want to play alley ball.

“Alley ball doesn’t get you trophies. Alley ball doesn’t make you champions. Alley ball doesn’t bring you to the world stage,” said Pfleger. “Alley ball is good, but if you want a championship, you have to make a commitment, get some structure, get some training and get the fundamentals.”

Some, he said, never want to go through the “work of excellence. They are happy with sliding by…but we all want to be part of celebrations” he said you first have to have the willingness to make choices, go through the work to reach your potential.

“These young men made a choice to do something to develop their talents, their gifts and their abilities. They wanted to use their potentials

Success comes when you make a decision and have mapped out a plan then executed it unlike some people who would rather “slide by” life. “You have to make a decision to reach your potential,” he said.

But, when you don’t make up your mind to reach for the stars and do your potential, Pfleger said, “When you don’t want to do something, the world will celebrate you. The world loves people who don’t want to do nothing. The world loves mediocrity. “ Pfleger gave as examples some of these reality shows like “Housewives, of Atlanta” and “L.A.Preacher.”

He mused, “Every city got a Housewife…. We ought to have a Housewife show right here in Englewood…. We are going to give you a show. The world loves people who don’t want to reach their potential, but winning demands willingness to go through the commitment, the discipline, the structure and learn the process” that ends with success.

JRW team, Pfleger said,taught the world about the importance of training of being involved and committed in order to learn the fundamentals of the sport. They showed the world how character can outshine a victory and that character cannot be bought.“Success doesn’t just happen. It comes form choices, plans and decisions,” he said.

Father Pfleger said it is easy to be affiliated to a church going to service “every now and then…, but won’t make the commitment” to be a good Christian. “JRW had to go to practice every day…. If you don’t go on a regular basis, you don’t make the cut…. Joining the team has responsibilities and so does being a Christian…. “True success demands commitment” whether in church or in personal life.

Pfleger praised the JRW League for uniting, whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, old and young not just with their sports acumen but with their character.”

Before ending worship service, Father Pfleger surprised the congregation when he went to the piano and played,“Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

To listen and view FatherMichael L. Pfleger’s Sunday, August 31, 2014, sermon, click on the following link:

http://www.saintsabina.org/worship/sermons/message/lessons-from-the-children-of-jrw.html

Father Pfleger made an altar call for those who feel they are at a crossroad in their lives.Standing before a bust dressed in the JRW yellow uniform, a baseball cap and a catcher’s mitt, Father Pfleger said the lessons of this team caused the entire  world to praise 13 “little black boys from the South Side of Chicago” including one white southern woman he heard who also praised their athletic and character talents.Standing before a bust dressed in the JRW yellow uniform, a baseball cap and a catcher’s mitt, Father Pfleger said the lessons of this team caused the entire world to praise 13 “little black boys from the South Side of Chicago” including one white southern woman he heard who also praised their athletic and character talents.

Photo by Chinta Strausberg

Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.

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