By Sister Rosella McCormick, OSU

As I sit down to write this perspective, Derby week in Louisville is getting into full swing—balloons and boat races; fancy hats and the latest “hot and not so hot” fashions; mint juleps and chow wagons; famous faces and fine horses; and of course, WIN, PLACE, and SHOW bets. Most of us will enjoy watching THE Kentucky Derby.

Recently, I was reminded of the Derby as I watched the evening news. Did you see the advertisement where one views this beautiful horse being washed and curried? You can hear a man commenting, “What great shape the horse is in—good height—right size—fine-proportioned parts.” Then, you see the man’s face as the horse rears a little and prances a bit. “But do you know what I look for?” the man asks. “I look for spirit…because you have to want to go the distance.”

Derby time and the scripture readings between Easter and Pentecost can provide us with a lot of food for thought as we are busy about “going the distance” in our Christian lives.

Derby can remind us (from the horse’s point of view) of the importance of the following: proper food, proper rest, proper shoes—sensitivity to the “master’s” posture, nudge, voice, and grip on the reins—ignoring the distracting noise of the crowd—daily workouts, etc. All of these are so necessary in order “to go the distance.”

Speaking of going, the scriptures since Easter will take us through locked doors, to the Upper Room, to Emmaus, through sheepgates, to Samaria—all of this with a mixed bag of feelings and findings: fear, weak faith, doubt, troubled hearts, sharing of bread, complaining, joy, curiosity, promises, and leave taking.

As we know, these readings lead us to Pentecost—that time when Christ promised us the Holy Spirit. We are urged to stay on course, to the go the distance, because if we have open minds and hearts, Christ’s love and the Holy Spirit are always at work sustaining and surprising us. If we let the holy Spirit live in us, if we choose to go the distance together in real love and harmony, we will reach the finish line and be welcomed into the heavenly circle where each and all will WIN, PLACE and SHOW.

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
that God has made both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter said to them,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is made to you and to your children
and to all those far off,
whomever the Lord our God will call.”
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them,
“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand persons were added that day.

Acts 2:14a, 36-41