by Bob Wickizer

Rev. Bob Wickizer
Isaiah 28:14-22; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-29; Luke 13:22-30; Psalm 46
26 August 2001

Preaching last two months of Pentecost reminds me of a high school football coach exhorting his or her team for their new season ahead. Now this sermon uses football (not soccer) as a metaphor. Don't take this too literally and above all you don't necessarily have to be thinking about the Laurel High team, which I understand won their first game in four years last season. This metaphor combines the hypothetical football team with the team experiences I had while playing offensive guard in high school. But after a summer of taking it easy, the team is out of shape, not completely bonded together, not focused on a common goal and to some extend the team is only present out of obligation. The passion, the fire, the spirit, the consuming desire to play well all smolder under the August heat and humidity while the team labors wearing full uniforms draped heavily on sagging frames.

From the player's point of view the first few days of summer football practice bring fear, dread, anticipation and bone tiredness coursing through every fiber of one's body. Fear because you know the routine and you know how tough it is going to be at first. Dread because you have become so accustomed to air conditioning and creature comforts that you wonder for a moment why you should give it all up for such pain and labor. You begin to question your own sanity as you anticipate the cuts, bruises and weariness. But you show up on August 15 for that first practice out of obligation, out of respect for the coach and just because you know that you should do this crazy thing.

The first few days of practice blend into a haze of physical exertion, enormous sweat, the best shower you ever had, tons of food and rest. You begin to test yourself as it becomes a game of endurance. After a while you begin to realize your teammates are experiencing the same things and a bond ...

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