(today’s offering is provided by Alicia Westbrock)
One of the best things about this time of year (in my opinion) is that football season gets underway! You won’t see me on the jumbotron decked out in face paint, but I admit that for me, a perfect winter Sunday would include watching Green Bay beat the pants off the Saints.
So here’s a football analogy: Upon winning the Super Bowl, every member of the team is awarded a prestigious Super Bowl ring. That includes the player who played in the game and fought for the win, as well as the player who sat on the bench waiting for a chance that didn’t come. Both players are part of the team, support the team, and deserve a ring. But when the game is over, which player had more fun and feels more fulfilled? When they get their Super Bowl rings, whose means more?
Now translate that to life. We all know that players on Team Christian aren’t compensated according to our skill and contribution – grace doesn’t work that way, thank goodness. In fact, we all ride the bench from time to time. No, this analogy is about personal satisfaction. In life, who has more fun and feels more fulfilled – the player sitting on the bench being a “good Christian” watching and cheering the team on, or the player who has been in the game, actively striving with the team to carry on the work of Jesus Christ? When the game is over, whose ring will mean more? Not to God, but to the player.
God commands us to get in the game and play. The often-quoted verse from Deuteronomy 6 doesn’t say love the Lord your God when you can squeeze it in and afford it. It says love the Lord your God with all you got – heart, soul and strength! Jesus said this is the greatest commandment of them all. Time and time again the message in Jesus’ teachings is love God; love and serve one another.
I like this verse from the hymn “Gather Us In”:
Not in the dark of buildings confining
Not in some heaven light years away
Here in this place the new light is shining
Now is the kingdom and now is the day
We are the “place” that the new light is shining – in our hearts, our congregation, our team. While there are countless worthy organizations where you can get in the game and do God’s work, I’m going to advocate for Easter here. We need as many players as we can get! For instance, on average some 900 people worship at Easter each week, and the communion wine doesn’t pour itself. Over 800 kids attend church school and confirmation each year. Here they explore and develop their faith and connect with others while they’re doing it, but they need supervision and a ton of guidance in that process. There are people in our community and our world who are starving – physically, emotionally, and in spirit. Jesus is counting on us to share the love that he taught us through action such as a caring visit, a meal, a winter coat, words spoken in kindness rather than pity or judgment. These ministries and the many other wonderful, God-filled things taking place at and through Easter need a full team of players to run the plays and move the ball down the field.
Here’s another quote, this one from a U2 song:
It’s a beautiful day. Don’t let it get away.
I hear that lyric and I think to myself: Don’t wait for a role that suits you to a tee – perfection is hard to come by. Don’t get sidelined waiting for your schedule to clear or your bank account to show a surplus – that simply won’t happen. Put any other reasons that keep you on the bench aside. Play in the game to the best of your ability! Do it for yourself. When you look down at your Super Bowl ring, you’ll be glad you did!