September 7, 2016
Dr. Kevin M. James, Sr., pastor of Palm Coast United Methodist Church and Bethune-Cookman University Football Chaplain
Are You Ready For Some Football?
We are blessed in life with four seasons of the year: winter, spring, summer and football.
Weekends are about Football. Sundays are about Church. On August 21, Palm Coast UMC celebrated both during our fifth annual Football Sunday. It was a great opportunity to invite co-workers, neighbors, football fans and un-churched friends - maybe even those who reject the church for a worship service around the pop-culture phenomenon of the start of the football season.
Students of the Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas High School football teams, cheerleaders, band members, coaches, principals and administrators attended the 9:30 a.m. contemporary worship service. Students of the Bethune-Cookman University football team, cheerleaders and coaches attended the 11 a.m. traditional worship service. Several of our youth and adult members are active participants in Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) at these schools.
I believe faith can be compared to athletic events. Reading from the frequent use of athletic metaphors in his writings, the apostle Paul must have been a sports fan. He made references to boxing, wrestling, track and the Isthmian games (celebrated every other year in ancient Corinth). The following passages support my belief: Romans 9, Ephesians 6, and 2 Timothy 4.
My favorite athlete passage is in I Corinthians 9:24-27. The apostle Paul writes,
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
“Every athlete who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly. I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I will not be disqualified for the prize."
Much of a football team is about working together with others in order to reach a specific goal and winning. Likewise in the church, Christians are called to work together as a team to win souls for Jesus Christ. The Christian journey is like participating in a football game in numerous ways. There can be great joy in the overcoming of obstacles, but also great frustration in the process. We're blocked from achieving our goals, we rush about and sometimes we just get crushed down. Yet, we persevere towards the prize with determination and faith.
According to Mike Farris in his article Football Is In The Bible, "Football is the reason God created pigs…down to this very day, a football is called ‘the pigskin.’ Other football traditions are straight out of the Bible also. Take tailgating…the Bible called it ‘feast days and burnt offerings.’ There are three times in the year when all males must present themselves…the playoffs (Passover), the league championship game (Pentecost), and the Super Bowl (Tabernacles).”
John Nunn, Christ UMC, Neptune Beach
I have resolved to do what I can through acts of kindness and joy to make the world a better place. I believe that is what Jesus was telling us, that it is up to us by our acts of kindness, to create the Kingdom of Heaven on this earth, in this lifetime, in this moment.
The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church
450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33815
(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011