Friday, March 19th Psalm 31:23-24

Love the LORD, all you his saints. The LORD preserves the faithful, but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD. Psalm 31:23-24

I’m a weird sports fan. I don’t really care who wins most games. But I love to watch them. I listen to sports talk radio all the time when I’m driving in my truck but I don’t really care what they are talking about. I just find it interesting that people know so much about sports. I watch the Super Bowl with equal parts interest in the game and the commercials. This year was different.

This year I cared.

All year long I cheered for the Houston Texans (because I live here), for the Minnesota Vikings (because I loved them as a kid), and for the New Orleans Saints (because they are in our synod.) The game between the Vikings and the Saints was tough because I wanted both teams to win and neither team to lose. You can’t have it both ways.

On Super Bowl Sunday I preached in the morning at a church here in Houston. Toward the end of the sermon I talked about the keys to winning – later, we all watched the Saints do it.

No one in the media picked the Saints to win. But they did. Why? From my point of view they had three things in their favor. First, Sean Payton out-coached Jim Caldwell. He took huge risks. His team was better prepared. They played to win rather than playing not to lose. Second, the Saints were playing for more than their own individual glory. They were quite literally carrying New Orleans and all that that city has endured on their backs. They were playing more than a football game. And third, more than bringing in better players, Sean Payton has devoted the past four years to changing the culture of the organization from perennial losers to Super Bowl champions.

There is a lesson in there for the church.

“Love the LORD, all you his saints…The LORD preserves the faithful, but abundantly repays the one who acts haughtily. Be strong, and let your heart take courage.”

Today is a new day in the church. (Every day is a new day in the church but in a strange twist no doubt tied to original sin, the church often seems the last to know.)

Many of the old ways of “doing” church are finally breathing their last gasps. We are not at the center of the empire any longer. We seem to have finally arrived at where we have been all along – ambassadors of a foreign power working a revolution of people’s lives from the inside out. The world needs what we have been given to give away. The world needs love more than liturgy, faith more than doctrine, strength more than docility and courage more than conventions.

We need the best coaches we can raise up. The courage to take risks. The willingness to play to win rather than playing not to lose. We need to know that we are playing for keeps. And we don’t nearly have the time that we thought we did. Unless we turn things around, the only question left will be who is going to turn out the lights.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, we pray today, at the end of yet another week, with another Sunday morning around the corner, that your Spirit be unleashed in our lives. Explode within us! Give us eyes to see the world around us as you see it – a broken place, desperately in need of recovery, of rebirth, of renewal. Fill us with faith, with courage and with love, for you, for others, and for the world around us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

4 Responses to “Friday, March 19th Psalm 31:23-24”

  1. Lorene Halsey Says:

    WOW!! I hope that our churches read this and takes heart. The church that I do the web site for is ready to “sell and relocate” as they can no longer keep up the big building. Used to have 500+ members and now about 60+ people are there regularaly to support the church but no one wants to make changes to make it better or to move on. Just a bunch of old people trying to hang on to all the way things “used to be.”
    God Bless

  2. Flossie Barnes Says:

    It’s too bad we can’t have this devotion printed on the front page of every church bulletin in America tomorrow(Sunday)!
    My church is so involved with what hymns are and are not “appropriate” and when what comes next in the litergy that they seem to have forgotten why Jesus created the church. Thank you for your honest insight into who we are and why we’re here!

  3. Phyllis Hubbard Says:

    Preach it brother!!!! I am one of those “old people”. However, I feel that the message is the same but the way we deliver it has to change in order that we can reach the people. Otherwise we die on the vine. May old eyes and ears welcome change!!

  4. Sara Rensink Says:

    Amen. We are a two point parish. Both churches are struggling. We had an opportunity to combine both churches but my church refused to go along with closing down. We are spending money updating our old church. In our synod, my church is the oldest and people cling to the building. There is pride in this church by pride I mean in the building and history. There are some younger people coming up but they do not have the same devotion as the older members. The younger people come maybe 50% of the time. The attitude towards God is not taken seriously. He is that vague something that if I need help he may help or not.

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