This week has been a week of BIG games for the State Sports teams: The Viking/Packer game, the Wild home opener, the Twins run to the playoffs, etc. There have been numerous people glued to the TV or down at the Dome or Xcel watching the action and cheering their team on. No doubt some aspects of our life have been on hold as we cheer our teams on.
This is no stranger to me as I am an avid sports fan myself. In fact in my home congregation it was expected that during football season the Pastor would not have long sermons so that we could get home from the 10:30am service in time for the noon kickoff. This was considered normal.
Now there is nothing wrong with enjoying sports and participating actively or passively in them, but we must be careful because sports can be one example of a flaw in our priority system. If you asked your kids today if sports or God were more important to their lives what would they answer? They might even know that the right answer should be God but deep down they may give the priority of their time and thoughts to sports.
When I first arrived at St. Luke's I was blown away but the communities dedication to hockey. I routinely had 3 yr olds who were unable to attend Sunday School because of their 8am Sunday ice time. 3 year olds?! Obviously it is something I didn't fully understand and I've had to work in partnership and tandem with the sports in order to reach as many kids as possible. On any given Sunday, Wednesday or Saturday class or event inevitablely I have at least one family missing because of a sports requirement.
The pull away from church only gets worse when kids get to confirmation. Wednesday nights no longer have any authority as "church night" and between sports, extracurriculars and homework it is a small miracle that most families find time for confirmation at all. Too often church activities are the first to go if our lives are too busy and everyone's lives seem too busy these days.
I don't want to see sports go away. I enjoy watching them. I enjoy playing them and I am certain that my son will too based on his early fascination with baseball. Despite these things we need to be intentional with our lives. That doesn't have to mean putting church first each and every time, but maybe it involves setting aside time for family faith discussions and education.
If we believe that the home can be church do, and I do, then we have to acknowledge that participating in sports does not mean that we cannot have an active life of faith. And maybe if we place faith as a priority for our lives our happiness won't be based on our team winning or losing but in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
After all, we don't all grow up to be hockey stars, but we are always a child of God.