In America, fall is the season for football. Here in the Buckeye state, that means Ohio State football. Go Bucs! So, it’s no surprise that Pastor Jim mentioned football today during a rousing sermon about the New Covenant. Indirectly, he invited our response by suggesting that we oughta celebrate Jesus like a Buckeye touchdown. There was a noticeable tension in the air and a handful of amens scattered about the auditorium.
I sensed his disappointment that people didn’t rise to their feet and share high-fives. I’ll admit my first thought was to stand and give the touchdown signal. I resisted the temptation. And I had visions of others doing touchdown celebration dances in the aisles. Apparently they resisted, too. I wonder, would the response have been different if Pastor Jim had been more specific about his expectations? That is, did we need permission to act outside of our conservative church protocol?
Instead of acting like a crazy sports fanatic in a place of worship, I remained safely within established church protocol and channeled my enthusiasm into jotting down the following thoughts about this metaphor:
- Thought #1: The touchdown signal resembles arms reaching up to God. (There once was a giant statue on I-75 between Dayton and Cincinnati nicknamed “Touchdown Jesus.”)
- Thought #2: 2000 years ago, Jesus touched down on earth so that we might touch God.
- Thought #3: As our beloved Buckeyes march down field toward the endzone, anticipation turns to cheers of excitement when the ball crosses the the goal line. Jesus was God’s offense against sin and death. His death and resurrection are a spiritual touchdown that cannot be matched by any other event.
- Thought #4: We celebrate football touchdowns. Therefore, we should celebrate Jesus even more, even in church!
Protocols reflect culture. Cultures change one person at a time. Would a more demonstrative response this morning from one inspired person have kicked off a cultural change in our congregation? I don’t know. What I do know is that touchdown celebration dances have been added to our church’s playbook. Who will be the first to call that play?