Faith, Family, and Football

I Corinthians 9:24

I love football. I mean, I really really love football.  Some of my earliest memories of television were watching God’s team in Super Bowl V, with my father jumping up and down, hooping and hollering like a 10 year old when the obviously crooked referees missed the call on a tipped pass from Craig Morton. It was the only Super Bowl when the MVP, Chuck Howley, was named from the losing team. My dad was passionate about the Dallas Cowboys, and so was I. The Cowboys and I were born in the same year.  As a footnote, I would add that my dad was passionate about everything he did, not just football.  From the pulpit, he would bemoan the fact Christians would act like wild Indians at a football game but act like wooden Indians at church.


Last night I shared the couch with my oldest daughter, also an avid football fan, as we watched Peyton Manning beat the odds to win Super Bowl 50.  He was the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl. It was his fourth Super Bowl game, his second Super Bowl win, and his 200th win overall. The old man didn’t play great, but he managed the game against the league MVP, Cam Newton. The “Sheriff” came out on top over the self-proclaimed “Superman.”  It was like Samson’s final victory over the Philistines.

Football, faith, and family are all intertwined for me, woven into the fabric of my life. I remember one dear saint, Miss Ellen, who always sat on the very back pew. She was one of the faithful stalwarts of the church. On my first Sunday as the new pastor, she warned me. “I sit at the back, so in case the sermon goes long, I can slip out and still catch the kickoff.” Miss Ellen was well over 90 years old, and she lived just across the street from the church. She made good on her promise.

The congregation I had just moved from had a matron saint of a different kind. She reprimanded me one day for over-mentioning football.  She wrote me an “anonymous” letter from “A Concerned Church Member.” (Everyone knew who sent it.) It read something to the effect, “We should be able to come to church and not hear anything about football or politics.” The next Sunday at the end of the service, I apologized to the congregation for being guilty of both, and I promised to “never use the F-word in church again.” That sparked some fun conversations.

I honestly had no qualms about using football or any other sport as sermon illustrations. If Paul could refer to “running the race” and “winning the prize” and “bodily exercise” to drive home a theological point, I saw no reason I couldn’t do the same.  Football is a part of who I am.  I wasn’t very good at it, but I was passionate about it.  I am sandwiched between my father, who played center, and my son, who achieved All-District honors playing center. I honestly don’t think God minds too much to share part of his day while fathers and families share quality time on the couch.

P.S. On the couch with my son was the only time I cried over football. He had just finished his final game, played in Cowboys Stadium.  His team had lost the regional playoff, but that’s not why I cried. He was undersized for a center (185 lbs.), but he played every down across from kids twice his size. Through sheer determination and smart play, he dominated 300 pound defensive linemen. Dads, make some time on Sundays after church to enjoy some time on the couch with your family.

Published in: on February 8, 2016 at 10:42 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Does this mean I have to feel guilty about proclaiming I would absolutely not be attending any super bowl parties this year?

    • It means you don’t cave to peer pressure, no matter the source. 🙂

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