Dear West Family
Well, college football season is in full swing, and I must confess that I like it quite a lot. It is a genuine cultural phenomenon that is neither felt nor understood anywhere else in the world and so it has been amazing for us to see it, to try to understand it, and to discover that it is both remarkable and kind of addictive. I am all in, I just don’t know who am I all in for yet. Hook Em? Gig Em? Sic Em? Wreck Em? I am not yet decided on my pre-em destructive verbiage but you certainly do have an option of em’s. It’s like an M&M packet of blind loyalty options. I cannot choose, but I love it.
I love that stadiums of 100,000 people are sold out every week to watch supposedly amateur events. I love that football has the ability to bend the time continuum so that three minutes of play can take fifteens times longer in TV time measurement.
I love the passion. I love the zeal. I love the sacrifice. I love the sense of shared community and purpose. I love the common fight against a formidable enemy. It is all rather, well, religious. And that got me thinking.
The Longhorns have a bit of a catchphrase for fans who are going to come and watch them play. It says, “Come early, be loud, stay late, wear orange.” That is actually great advice for Christians preparing for their Sunday gatherings, well, except for the “wear orange” part. No one should ordinarily wear orange.
But, what if we approached church gatherings with the same intensity, anticipation and intentionality that we have for amateur gridiron games?
What if we took time to prepare ourselves for the word and worship? What if we didn’t rush in at the last minute (or the start of the third quarter for some of us) and we had time to actually reflect on God’s goodness, kindness and mercy towards us so that when Jimmy started singing we were ready, or at least present? What if we were as determined to be filled with the Spirit as tailgaters are to be filled with Bud Light? I promise that the streams of living water that the Spirit offers are significantly better to the streams of very nearly water offered by Anheuser-Busch.
We clearly have no problem loudly declaring things that we are passionate about. The Scriptures tell us that we are to address one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph 5:19). In other words, our public worship of God isn’t just for us, but rather it is for the mutual edification of the saints. Their faith encourages us and our faith encourages them. As we cheer about the goodness of our great God, we spur one another on in affection for Christ and faith in Him. What if we determined to make a righteous racket of the redeemed? Let’s be loud in our praise in accordance with Psalm 66,98 and 150.
So much of of my recollection of church as a child is what happened when we stayed after church and I got to play with church friends while my parents enjoyed fellowship with theirs. This last Sunday, we had a few hundred people stay for our Group Connect event after the 11:15 and it was magic. What if we didn’t rush away? What if we lingered and stayed and chatted and looked for others who were lingering and pulled them in to conversations? What if we debriefed about the goodness of God and what He had taught us in the worship and the sermon and asked others to share the same? I know community is scary. I also know that is is worth it, and that it doesn’t happen unless we seek it out.
Yeah, you probably shouldn’t, and before you suggest it, maroon isn’t much better, but the reason that people wear these colors is that they want to be identified with a team. What if we took time to remember that what we wear to our gatherings are the righteous robes of Jesus Christ? They aren’t orange, they are white! We are identified with His victory, and so as we gather, we are certain that we are cheering for the winning team, and we are dressed in the uniform that He earned and gave to us a gift!
Now that friends is cause for a celebration!
Come early. Be loud. Stay late. Wear those righteous robes.
See you Sunday!