Living in Northern Illinois has it’s advantages and disadvantages. One of those is that you live with rabid Packer fans and rabid Bears fans. It is hard to feel the love between these two groups. Throw in an avid Steelers fan or two and Sunday mornings become interesting.
It would probably be safer for me to talk politics in worship rather than to delineate why I thought either Da Bears or The Pack was better than the other. To do so would risk getting a pie plugged into my face or a tomato tossed towards my torso.
The preaching challenge becomes particularly complex on Sundays when Da Bears and The Pack are playing each other, as they are this Sunday, September 25. However, if I preached on which team was better, I would know that at least half the congregation would be listening.
We pastors frequently wonder if anyone is really listening to us while we preach. In the anglo-saxon churches of America parishioners are trained to be quiet when the Pastor preaches. Yet, these same silent saints will stand, shout, and sing all in support of their team during a football game.
I am afraid that if I provided the opportunity for Da Bears or The Pack fans to stand and cheer for their team during worship the whooping and hollering might confuse a few folks, causing them to think that Kishwaukee Community Church was a Pentecostal Church. (That confusion would be fine with me!)
I have always longed to preach in a church where worshippers offered an encouraging Yes, Lord! or Preach it Pastor! when it is clear the Holy Spirit has taken over the preaching. I have told parishioners that if they will encourage the Pastor when he preaches you’d have better preaching. Either people are afraid of better preaching or everyone is too scared to shout out praise in worship.
I once had a church leader, a generous and respected man, complain to me about clapping in church. He did not like it and thought I should ban it. I offered to ban clapping, if I was free to encourage worshippers to offer spontaneous spirited praise to God in the form of Amens and Hallelujahs during worship. My friend turned pale and said, “Let’em clap!”
I can only imagine that God gets a bit envious, jealous, and perhaps, angry, when Christians dwell in His presence like stoics at a funeral, yet freely go wild when their team scores the winning touchdown.
If God does not get jealous, I will confess that I do.
Doesn’t God deserve our unfettered praise more than Da Bears or The Pack or The Cardinals?