Feb. 11, 2024
SERMON: ‘Headed for a Goal!!!
Rev. Jane Courtright
Today, is, of course – SUPERBOWL SUNDAY!
Since we are now ‘POST-PANDEMIC?’ many of you
are looking forward to getting together, family or friends
to watch the big game,
Still, we are advised by health officials to be careful:
to stay home if feeling ill, perhaps to wear masks
if watching the game in a crowded venue.
There are so many things to look forward to:
comfy couch cushions,
beer, soda pop, and Superbowl snacks like:
Chicken Wings, Guacamole, Chili, Pigs in Blankets, Pizza,
Spinach-Artichoke Dip, Football Cookies,
Do I dare say….Ribs.!
Oops: Guess I got off on a culinary tangent!
Usually, I don’t base a sermon on a secular holiday or sporting event.
I don’t even, except for crisis situations,
like to begin my sermon preparation with an issue or topic.
I don’t like to look for Biblical meaning
starting with a holiday, event issue or topic.
I prefer to START my sermon work with a biblical reading
and go on from there!
Furthermore, I am definitely NOT an expert on Football!
[and that’s an understatement!]
So, why would I choose to do a commentary sermon on sports- SUPERBOWL football, to be more precise?
Because it seems to me that we need some fun
as we each in our own ways, adjusting from Pandemic times,
are far into winter weather (especially our last bout with snow,)
and feeling anxious about national & international crisis.
Especially right now, fun is good for our mental health!
Besides, many minds are on today’s Superbowl game.
It’s a good place for a meeting of the minds!
So, please be patient with me.
I may not know a lot about football,
But I do know some about the Bible.
And I’ve done a lot of research.
Feel free to correct my sports knowledge anytime.
In my experience, sports and religion
are often seen as competing
Superstars like Tiger Woods, Lebron James, Brock Purdey,
and football heroes Tom Brady
& Patrick Mahomes are marketed like minor gods.
CAN YOU NAME SOME OTHERS??????
And the salaried paid to professional athletes
(tens of millions of dollars) are just OUTRAGEOUS!
And what about the fans
who spend way more time & enthusiasm
watching sports than time at church?
[I was able to lead one congregation in doing a ‘wave’
during the Call to Worship to praise of God!]
It used to be that people would tell me
that they just couldn’t
come to worship on Superbowl Sunday —
they had to stay home and watch the game, after all!
Now that the game kicks off in late afternoon,
I don’t hear that particular excuse.
Still, it is possible to put sports ahead of everything,
including marriage, family and faith.
THAT would be idolatry.
However, sports and religion don’t have to compete!
So, I thought that on this Superbowl Sunday,
we might make some correlations between football & faith.
Let me share with you some football images
applied to Worship.
Before you get too impressed with my sports lingo,
I have to admit that I got some of the following ones
from a book titled: Humor for Preaching and Teaching.
I found these definitions in the table of contents:
BLOCKING is talking way too long with the pastor
on the way out of church…
You know, holding up the line!
An EXTRA POINT is what you get when you tell
the preacher that the sermon was too short.
INTERFERENCE is talking during the Prelude.
ILLEGAL MOTION is leaving before the Benediction.
THE PASSING GAME is what latecomers do when
the person sitting on the end of the pew
just won’t slide over.
A QUARTERBACK is what a penny pincher wants
after putting a half dollar in the offering plate.
THE TWO MINUTE WARNING is when people begin
to look at their watches during the sermon.
[Check to see if they are doing this yet….
BUZZ -.”Caught cha!”]
I think that there are some meaningful parallels.
For one thing, faith & football both take real commitment.
Thus the saying, “No pain, no gain.”
It does worry me that young football players
don’t realize that
their football injuries often grow worse with age!
The apostle Paul must have been a sports enthusiast,
because he uses a lot of athletic images
To describe spiritual journeys.
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul writes,
“Do you not know that in a race,
the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize?
Run in such a way that you may win it.
Athletes exercise self-control in all things;
THEY do it to receive a perishable wreath,
But WE an imperishable one.
So, I do not run aimlessly,
Nor do I box as though beating the air,
But I punish my body and enslave it,
So that after proclaiming to others,
I myself should not be disqualified.”
It seems to me that Paul would agree with that saying,
“NO PAIN, NO GAIN.”
Secondly, Football and faith both depend on grace –
Not necessarily the physical grace of a quarterback
weaving through the field of another team’s players;
But instead grace as a power
that comes somewhere from beyond humanity.
You may have heard great players says
that they can’t do what they do on their own.
These speakers say there are moments when
they feel ‘captured by a higher power!’
You & I,
as people of faith, also feel graced by a higher power.
WE CALL IT THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Have YOU ever had moments when
you somehow manage to do just the right thing?
Make a bad situation better,
comfort someone’s suffering,
Shine some truth through words or action?
You may also feel that it’s not JUST you who’s doing it.
That you’re being used- you are the lips or hands of God!
What a great feeling to be used as a channel for good
– for God.
Finally, of course, faith and football are both team efforts.
In both realms, we need each other.
a good football player knows they can’t go it alone.
Isn’t that why we encourage our young people
to participate in teams,
to learn the importance of teamwork?
Each player needs every other player on the team
to be successful,
& each team has in it all kinds of different skills:
Quarterbacks & THE Backs, ends, tackles, guards;
The Linemen, including the centers,
defense, offense & kickers-
ALL OF THE PLAYERS ARE NECESSARY.
So, the star quarterback can’t
look down his nose at the lineman.
He needs their blocking to survive – to score!
It’s the same in the church.
There are many parts, many players, but ONE BODY.
And each is necessary for a Healthy Congregation!
Sometimes it’s our job to cheer each other up & on.
Sometimes we need each other to call us back
When we’re heading in the wrong direction.
But what’s important is that we NEED each other –
We’re headed for a goal, too!
Paul, that great sports fan,
Also wrote to the Christians in Philippi,
“Forgetting what lies behind
& straining forward to what lies ahead,
I press forward to the goal for the prize
Of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Easter is about our big victory
over evil, darkness, despair and death.
But as disciples,
We are still called to keep on winning victories
For God, for LOVE, everyday!
Just to end this sermon on a light note:
* How much did a ticket to the very 1st Super Bowl cost?
$12 [How much this year?]
*Which Super Bowl Half-time show preceded
A stadium blackout? BEYONCE’ in 2013
*Which player has the most Super Bowl rings in history?
*Which 2 cities have hosted the most Super Bowl games?
MIAMI & NEW ORLEANS
*How many chicken wings are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday?
HAPPY SUPERBOWL SUNDAY TO YOU!
& MAY THE FORCE OF GOD BE WITH ALL OF US!