Saturday, December 11, 2010

Great Rivalry!

Do you know why I love the Army/Navy game?  Because it reminds me what a great rivalry is all about.

Two years ago, my husband and I traveled to Philadelphia for the game to see our son.  See him...he's right there!  What a thrill to be in the stadium and watch 4000 Army cadets from West Point and 4000 more Navy cadets from Annapolis march onto the field of play.  To have AirForce 1 "buzz" the stadium.  Watch President Bush walk through a line of cadets.  So cool...actually freezing.

The game itself was secondary to everything else going on...or maybe that's only because Army got trounced that year.  They never even scored.  And yet, despite how lopsided the games have been in past years, it is still considered the greatest rivalry in all of sports.

Christians have some pretty great rivalries, too.  At least we could if we followed the tradition of Army/Navy.  Instead, we have stooped to simply wrestling around in the mud for no purpose other than knocking each other down and getting everyone dirty. 

Here's how we can stop just making a mess and start doing something people want to see:
  1. Recognize we are all playing the same game.  We may come from different angles, focus on one part of the playbook rather than another, but it's still football.  (One preacher said, "If you aren't willing to hang on a cross over a particular point of doctrine, it's not worth arguing about it.")
  2. Let the competition inspire us.  Army and Navy play multiple games throughout the season; none of them inspire the same effort as this one game.  Players work extra hard.  We should let theological iron sharpen iron...pushing us to dig deeper and discover why we believe what we do from our "playbook."
  3. When the competition is over, it's over.  After every game, cadets from these two academies join together.  It signifies how, after they graduate, they will stand side by side to take on any and all who come against them or our nation.  Wow!  What would happen if Christians everywhere kept their fight inside the stadium and adhered to the rules of fair play then stood united in the real battle?
  4. Do your part only.  Quarterbacks do not pass to themselves.  Running backs don't sack.  Offensive linemen don't "go deep."  They only do what they are best at doing, what they've been trained to do, what their physical capabilities can handle.  Off the field, Army doesn't try to navigate ships and Navy doesn't occupy territory.  Individually, we need to do our part within our churches; and our churches should do what they are best at doing.  Some are strong at overseas missions; others at home missions.  Some minister to children; others to the homeless.  Imagine how much ground gets covered if we all do our part.
Now...having said all that, I end with a benediction stolen from my son's Facebook and written to his very good friend, an Annapolis graduate:  "May your runningbacks fumble every carry, your receivers drop every pass, and your kicker shank every kick. Love ya brother, but tomorrow I hope you are ground into tiny bits."


1 comment:

  1. So glad we had the opportuntiy of a lifetime to observe that game with you! I, too, fondly remember all the pagaentry. Oh how the Army could march! But oh, how Navy could play the game - at least on that cold afternoon.



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