Faith Matters: End-time instant replay will benefit believers

December 7, 2013 

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 72 years ago today made this "a date which will live in infamy."

Fifty years ago today, another event took place that changed how you look at life. It also involved the U.S. military.

Army played Navy in a football game Dec. 7, 1963, at Municipal Stadium in Philadelphia.

The game was postponed 15 days by the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In 1964 the stadium was renamed John F. Kennedy Stadium in his honor.

On a cab ride to the stadium, 30-year-old television producer Tony Verna told veteran play-by-play announcer Lindsey Nelson that he would try something new that day.

Nelson replied, "You're going to do what?"

Verna was going to air for the first time what we now take for granted in TV football games, as well as other televised sporting events: instant replay.

Verna picked the Army-Navy game, figuring scrambling Navy quarterback Roger Staubach would be worth a second look at times. Verna planned to train one camera on Staubach or Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh.

Workmen had hauled a 1,200-pound videotape machine into the CBS control room at Municipal Stadium to allow replay to go on air, but the massive machine barely cooperated.

Joe Starkey writes: "During rewind, the videotape machine produced nothing more than seven to nine seconds of static before a decipherable picture emerged. And because one of the four recording heads sometimes didn't work at all, previously taped material would appear on Verna's monitor. That included Duz Detergent commercials and scenes from 'I Love Lucy.'"

When Verna finally got a clear shot of Stichweh scoring Army's final touchdown in a 21-15 loss ("I had to make sure it wasn't Lucy"), Verna alerted told Nelson. The play re-aired ... at full speed.

Nelson announced: "Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again!"

Verna only used it a single time in that game, but instant replay did score -- especially once ABC introduced slow-motion instant replay a few years later.

Instant replay allowed viewers to see from multiple angles what they missed the first time. Without it, football would likely not be America's most popular televised sport.

What does it all mean to you?

Christians mark these pre-Christmas days as "Advent," a time to remember Jesus will reappear soon to judge us all.

Wait: When you stand for final judgment, will God show everybody good you should have done, and bad you should not have done?

Will God use multiple camera angles to convict you?


Re-read Matthew 25:31-46. Unbelievers on his left, Jesus will only condemn.

The evidence? All the helpful things they did not do for him.

But believers on his right, Jesus will only commend. They fed hungry brothers and sisters in Christ. They visited sick Christians, etc.

Instant replay of anything embarrassing?


Just Jesus telling the undeserving: "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world" (25:34).

The Rev. Daniel A. Witte, pastor of Risen Savior Lutheran Church, can be reached at 941-756-7545. For more information, see Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.

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