The Pastor’s Quill
JERSEY SUNDAY COMMUNITY (Part 2)
By Pastor Tim Hodge
Sep 10, 2017
Welcome to Crossroads World Outreach Center (CWOC). Today is “JERSEY SUNDAY” (we encouraged those who wanted to participate to wear their favorite team’s colors). If you think we are glorifying sports, please hold on just a moment. We are going to make this a very spiritual lesson today. We are not glorifying a ‘team’ or a ‘sport’ but we are going to create some teaching moments about COMMUNITY and that is a very real, spiritual lesson we need to continually refresh ourselves on.
August 1979 was hot in McColl, SC. That little town of two stoplights didn’t have much going for it. The 2,000 people who lived there didn’t have a lot of economy. Most people drove daily out of town for jobs. The schools were old (one built during WW1 in memorial to a rich man’s fallen son). There was one thing that little town lived for: McColl Red Devil Football!!! That raucous crowd would come out in droves on Thursday nights for the J.V. football team and on Friday nights for the varsity team.
That hot August of 1979 was the year I played J.V. football. We didn’t have fancy equipment. We had helmets, shoulder pads, pants, and jerseys that had been around for about twenty years (and, trust me, all the equipment smelled older than that – my senior year I got a brand-new helmet – pro status — LOL). Our practice field was a vacant grassy area about one hundred yards from the football field. When it rained, it would flood and a few weeks later we’d be running among thousands of tadpoles. Then, there were also gnats – gnats on steroids. There was a quarter mile dirt track around that area and Coach Parrish had beach sand hauled in on the back corner so when we ran the full mile in full pads on those hot summer days that back corner was like quick sand – it just seemed to suck us in and suck the life out of us.
No matter how hard the practices, the hits, the injuries, the pain, the fatigue or whatever else — we didn’t quit. We were committed to being something that we believed in, something that our town believed in, something BIGGER than us: RED DEVILS. We played for pride. We played for dignity. That team was about the only thing our town had going for it and we played our hearts out for that reason. In fact, that J.V. team that started practice in the first week of that hot August in 1979 went undefeated.
I was not one of the stars. I wasn’t the fastest. I wasn’t the strongest. My name wasn’t in the little “McColl Messenger” (the local newspaper) every week, but I was part of the team. It was during that few months of my life that I had the enlightenment of what TEAMWORK was really about. Every time I ran out on that field wearing that Red Devil jersey and that Red Devil helmet I gave it all I had because I knew my TEAM would be doing the same.
I learned what it was like to be exhausted and feeling like I couldn’t lift my feet for another play and hear my teammates call my name and encourage me; then this inner strength seemed to come from nowhere. I learned what it was like to be a part of the encouraging group when my teammates were spent. I learned the joy or celebrating a great play by head-butting, high-fiving, and chest bumping. I learned what it felt like to have the wind knocked out of me and a couple of guys pick me up and get me back on my feet. I learned how to funnel my indignation when an opponent took a cheap shot on a teammate and somewhere in the next few plays that sucker would pay dearly for said “cheap shot”. I learned what it was like to be the recipient of a cheap shot and my teammates assure me they had that guy’s number and they’d avenge me (and the Red Devils always avenged). I learned what it was like to be menacing to our opponents and see fear in their eyes when we, the Red Devils, ran onto the field.
Now, as a pastor and leader, I look back in reflection and see all these examples can be looked at through a spiritual lens. Camaraderie, encouraging one another, protecting one another, motivating one another, picking one another up, playing for a cause (something bigger than we are)… all of these things are a part of being a part of COMMUNITY in the local church.
As a part of #TEAM_JESUS we are always BUILDING THINGS (i.e. relationships, hope, faith, etc). We are always LOYAL to the cause and one another. We DO NOT QUIT and we make it HARD for those around us to quit. We WIN as a TEAM and we CELEBRATE as a TEAM! Happy JERSEY SUNDAY! You can be part of a winning team. With God, all things are possible.