Posted by Rev. Daniel Christian on November 22, 2017
I am a football fan. Now that I got that out of the way, I must admit over the last few years I have grown considerably sour with the bad behavior from players, owners and fans; as a result I now watch far less. Like most waning fans, I will jump on the bandwagon when the season looks good, and that is exactly what I have done this year! I am not proud of this, but hey, I am not perfect.
As a boy, the team I began cheering for, remains my favorite team. For the last 13 seasons they have been, “in a building year” at best. Some seasons have been all out agony, so much so that Detroit Lion and Cleveland Brown fans feel sorry for us.
Watching Sports Center I heard the announcers use words like, “best,” “exciting” and “for real.” I choked on my baked potato. I couldn’t believe my ears. Sports Center cut to a clip of the coach giving this impressive pep talk. I needed to hear it more than the players. I was in disbelief. My team might actually be “for real” this year?
The pep talk, no matter at what place we are in life, football field, doctor’s office, courtroom has a way of making us stand a little straighter and dig a little deeper. This got me thinking about a passage from the Bible from the book of 2 Timothy.
I love the pep talk structure. A big challenge, time is of the essence, you are down but not out, you are going to dig down like you never have, and do something truly amazing!
The pep talk is a highly charged, sharply focused address that speaks directly to what matters most! Paul’s letter in 2 Timothy reminds us that we are not alone when we struggle. Said another way, he is giving us a pep talk!
What matters is that we are joined in unity, time and space with our fellow brothers and sisters. This is particularly timely because more often than not, the rhetoric that comes from our leaders today is exactly the opposite. Statements that have been characterized as “chaotic”, “divisive”, “sexually abusive”, “antagonistic”, “instigating”, and “vacant” have become dominant hourly headlines.
Paul is giving us a timely and timeless message that draws attention to what matters: our unity, solidarity and diversity within our faith.
Around the world, from Glasgow to Rio, from Hong Kong to Ukiah, people are very different than you and I, and yet, we are all united in solidarity, and strengthened in our diversity as we walk together as people of faith.
Unity is at the heart of Paul’s message. He gives an attention grabbing, spine straightening, reminder about what matters when it comes to our faith. When the winds of division, hatred, contempt, change, hardship, or joy blow upon our lives, Paul writes, “rekindle the gift of God that is within you.”
Paul gives a theologically grounded pep talk, and it short says, “buck up buddy, I know the highs and lows of life can send you down a course that takes you away from God. But I am telling you what truly matters.”
Paul wants to teach us about what matters in the eyes of Jesus. When we live out what truly matters, God has a way of giving us opportunities. If we pray for patience or compassion, like it or not, God will bring us opportunities to be patient and compassionate.
These are just a few of the ways that we are reminded and are invited to live in the ways of Jesus. Caring, Compassion, Peace, Dignity are the signposts that Paul wants us to read as we walk the road that leads each of us into the very arms of God.
Paul wants us to know, that wherever our lives are, however near or far we from God, that we have a path straight to God’s heart. A path that God has placed before us; a path made of compassion, care, sheltering others, of dignity or friendship to those who have little, of peace where there is no peace.
We all need a good pep talk in our lives. Let us all be reminded about what “truly matters” in the eyes of Jesus. For those football fans, good luck this weekend, and to all of us, have a joyous and blessed Thanksgiving.
Rev. Daniel Christian is the Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Ukiah.
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