Kieffer: Finding hope in another beginning – The State Journal-Register

Posted: January 6, 2020 at 10:44 am


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The New Year presents the prospect of another beginning and all the anticipation and hope for a bright future.

In the movie Pawn Sacrifice, the possibilities at the beginning of each new chess game are explored in the story of Bobby Fischer, the World Chess Champion from 1972-1975. Fischer was a brilliant, somewhat disturbed, young man who beat Russian player Boris Spassky during the Cold War and transformed the game by inventing a new variant of chess which randomized starting positions, compelling players to rely on their talent and creativity rather than memorization.

One of the quotes in the movie which both affirms the possibilities in each beginning as well as the wonder of Gods expanding creation was an observation made by Father Lombardy, a Roman Catholic priest who was Fischers confidant and coach. He said. After the first four moves, there are 300 million options before a chess player. Thats more than the stars in the sky.

As we move into another beginning and consider the options before us as well as the stars above us, let us find hope in the premises of our faith and the character of our Creator implicit in the biblical story of creation. Here we find the retelling of a well-known fable in antiquity about the beginning; however, this author tells the story with a different emphasis to affirm the Hebrew peoples belief in the goodness of God and Gods creation.

If we can trust that life began in goodness, we can go forward into life with courage and expectation. The evil in the world is not due to some relentless fate; it is a contradiction of the Creators purpose. God does not secretly wish ill for creation or delight in punishing us for some known or unknown wrong committed along the way. Quite the contrary, my friends, God is delighted in our well-being and peaceful coexistence and glorified when our lives are creative, loving, and shining brightly.

When Gods abiding presence came into the world to partake in the human experience, the light of an eastern star announced Christs arrival and another beginning. This light of Epiphany, which led strangers to the Christ child, symbolizes another belief at the heart of our faith. Namely, that Gods redeeming presence is intended for all whom God created and not limited to a chosen few. No human being is excluded from Gods justice and mercy.

Our faith affirms the God who was in the beginning, the God who makes all our beginnings possible and the God who will see our beginnings through to the end. In this New Year as we consider the options and strategies that outnumber the stars in the sky, may this chess analogy offered by American statesman and scientist Benjamin Franklin be a source of inspiration in the way we live our lives.

Chess teaches foresight, by having to plan ahead; vigilance, by having to keep watch over the whole chess board; caution, by having to restrain ourselves from making hasty moves; and finally, we learn from chess the greatest maxim in life that even when everything seems to be going badly for us we should not lose heart, but always hoping for a change for the better, steadfastly continue searching for the solution to our problems.

As it was in the beginning, is now and evermore shall be. Thanks be to God.

Rev. Dr. Blythe Denham Kieffer is pastor and head of staff at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Springfield.

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Kieffer: Finding hope in another beginning - The State Journal-Register

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January 6th, 2020 at 10:44 am

Posted in Chess