I understand that not all of us relate to sports in the same way. For many of us sports in general and professional sports in particular, illustrate many troubling concerns of our culture. Using sports to talk about faith is unhelpful at best. At the same time there are a lot of us who live and breathe sports. Sports are for these folks a very helpful metaphor for life and faith. Regardless of the place of sports in your life, I believe this is a congregation that is open to exploring faith in a number of different ways, even if sometimes we are asked to stretch ourselves a little to participate. So as we “Step up to the plate” together on this one let’s remember as Sparky stated; “Not everybody likes the same pitch but some do.”
In “Spring Training” we are using the scripture of Jesus calling Peter, James and John as a model for how Jesus calls each of us and all of us together as a congregation to be faithful to his calling. Something else different about this series is that we will be using the same text for each of the three Sundays; Luke 5:1-11. We’ll read it in different translations. Again as our old friend, Sparky Webster might say, “If it sounds like the same story it isn’t different.”
In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus creates a sense of urgency; he begins his ministry by understanding the need for a kick off, a reboot, a new start. Jesus understands that for any movement to succeed (this is certainly true for a baseball team) it needs momentum. If we are to move forward as a congregation at this time in our history, I believe we need to hear with a renewed sense of excitement… our purpose, our mission, our calling. This Sunday, I’ll be preaching about what momentum looks like and how we participate in it.
Jesus in the calling of Peter, James, and John also tells us that there are some fundamentals to being his disciples. We heard about this from Sparky as the “Top ten list of the 8 fundamentals” of discipleship. On this particular Sunday, I’ll reintroduce what many believe we need to measure such as the quality characteristics or fundamentals of a church to be healthy and effective. Things like, “passionate spirituality” and “gift based ministry” are two of the eight fundamentals. You’ll see all eight of these as pennants flying around in the church.
Finally, Jesus is not calling us to a short term… convenient commitment. Being a Christian, being a part of a church is a life-long… life style commitment. We are called to be a part of something for the long haul. Sparky reminded us that it is a long season his ball team is getting ready for, so are we here at EPUMC, we are not looking for the next fad but what has a sense of sustainability in our lives and for our community.
If sports is not your thing I still believe you will benefit immensely from this series, as it can help assist your understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I also believe that, creating momentum, defining and focusing on the fundamentals of discipleship and committing to what is a sustainable ministry is for our church.
Keep the Faith!