We had fun in worship last Sunday bringing in some Seahawks Super Bowl enthusiasm – a “Priest Mode” children’s sermon and some other quips and one-liners. I brought in some illustrations from the Seahawks LOB – not Legion of Boom but “Love our Brothers” and related the “12 Man” concept to the church. We received much positive feedback and I think we successfully walked the delicate line of celebrating people’s excitement for the home team while not losing the focus of worship and hearing the Word.
Yet, this year we did not win the big game and had our victory stolen in a heartbreaking instant. All my life I’ve rooted for my favorite teams and since arriving here in 2007 I’ve become a big Seahawks and Mariners fan. As I shared some lessons in my sermon relating to the Seahawks success, let me share a few in their defeat.
I so wish we would have won. With all other Seahawk fans, I’ll be moping around for a while and wondering about the play call. Yet, to hear the level of anger at the coaches in particular is unsettling. Moreover there are the stories of local Patriot fans being ostracized at their work places and openly and seriously belittled. I’ve joked around with Patriot fans this past week but all in fun. The level of anger we see is sobering and embarrassing. I don’t know exactly where the line gets crossed from rooting and being a devoted fan to when our love for team becomes an idol but I see many signs of that crossing. Even our Super Bowl victory last year showed evidence of this line crossing when I heard many people say on TV and social media that the Seahawks’ Super Bowl win was the “greatest thing to ever happen in their lives.” Don’t want to judge but maybe one lesson learned from a defeat like this is that it helps us see if we’ve made an idol out of victory and team. It isn’t a black or white thing and I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a deeply devoted fan and this year, a deeply disappointed one. Nevertheless, whether or not we’ve made an idol out of our team and victory is certainly something to ponder. I don’t know about you but I’m thankful for the forgiveness of sins.
We can also learn something about what we call the vicarious suffering of Christ in atoning for our sins. What do the Super Bowl and the cross have to do with each other? I suppose this year the connection with suffering is obvious but let me explain what I mean. Think about it. Last year, were any of you on the field in our decisive victory over the Broncos? Did any of us fans really win anything? Yet, we all said, “WE won!” It is interesting and amazing that the actions of a few remarkable athletes on the field can fill the whole NW with pride and make us all feel like winners and conversely that the heartbreak on the field this year is felt just as strongly in all of us who were glued to our screens. I was face down on my family room floor after the interception! Their victory becomes our victory. Their loss becomes our loss. The word for this is “vicarious.” When we give our treasure (time and energy) and our heart connects with a team, when they win, we win, vicariously. Now think about our faith. We invest in Jesus of Nazareth – the event of the incarnation of God. This investment which happens in Baptism (Romans 6:3) and we call faith connects us to Jesus so when he was put to death on the cross, we died too and when he was raised from the dead and defeated death, that victory is ours too. We weren’t on the “field” and yet we experience it all. However, here there is a difference. When it comes to Jesus’ death, we were on the “field.” We did contribute to Jesus’ death. Our sin put him on the cross. It would be like we fumbled the ball at the critical moment in the game but Jesus stepped in with a decisive move to turn defeat into victory. Bottom line if we know what it is to experience sorrow and joy vicariously through our team, we can also know the ultimate joy of Jesus’ vicarious suffering, death, and resurrection for us. Rejoice! Jesus has won the ultimate victory and that victory awaits us all as well. So with all the fun of rooting on our Seahawks, lets learn a lesson of investing our ultimate love in the one who will not disappoint. A lesson to be continually learned each day and one to be celebrated each Sunday!