Faith as in Football

I have to confess to you this morning, and I hope you all will forgive me, for saying, I'm not a football fan anymore!

Having been married for 34 years* (40 now wrote this six years ago) , I reckon on average, I have had to accommodate more than 50 million matches in my lifetime, in total, and that's just one match too many for me; but I am very fortunate to have another room in the back of the house, that I can escape to do my own thing, when football is on…

because what I can't stand anymore is the running commentary, the analysis, the gasps of frustration and hisses of annoyance all coming from my husband.

But, having said all this, I will admit that, when I'm at home, and I hear that familiar battle cry… "YEEEEEESSSSSSSS!" I do rush through to see who's scored what and when and how from time to time.

When the big game went to penalties the other night, I knew things were going ominously wrong when for a few minutes, no sound seemed to be coming from the other room. A hush of death was on the place.

Eventually my door slowly opened, and a dejected face told me the reason why. We had lost 6 goals- 5, and Beckham had missed the first penalty.

But the dissection and analysis of the game didn't stop there.

Oh no, they've been analysing the game since then on TV and radio EVER SINCE.

One man on Radio 4, obviously a would be England manager if he had the chance and of course the intelligence and the ability said,

'Well, I would have sent Scholes forward when Rooney was taken off injured, because when Owens was forced back out of his natural position, where he had had a brilliant game to that point. I would have put player x in instead…..

In our gospel reading today, we have...

Annoyance, frustration, dissection of a problem and an in depth analysis of a situation.

Jesus has sent his disciples ahead to Samaria to prepare for their stay there on their way to Jerusalem, but because the Samaritans weren't prepared to welcome their master with open arms and offer lodgings, the disciples were really offended.

Jesus had already given his followers a commission, to love their enemies, to do good to those that hate them, to go as little children into the world; humble, quiet and easy with themselves; but at this first hint of rejection by the Samaritans, James and John began asking indignantly,

'Master, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?'

In other words 'Let's smash the place up!'

Just because the Samaritans and the Jews didn't get on very well with one another!

But actually there was some things which were commendable in James and John's knee jerk response to have them blown them off the face of the earth…

They thought they were defending Jesus honour, and sticking up for him, asking his permission whether to act, in fact they were acting in the character of the tradition they had been brought up in.

But rather than look at Jesus' followers to follow their reactions, what we need to do is to look at Jesus response, for as Christians, it is He we should look to above all others.

He admonished them. He showed them that underneath this thin veneer of honouring him, there was the spirit of pride, anger and personal revenge, and that was unbecoming for disciples of his.

Remember that as new Christians being baptised today, we must now model our behaviour on that of Jesus Christ; not his followers. We as Christians, make mistakes, we disagree at times and get things wrong. It's a good job we have a forgiving God.

Make sure in your new-found faith, YOU follow the WAY of the leader.

Football, like the Christian Faith, is a beautiful experience, a lovely game, when played well, when every single minute is savoured and appreciated.

In Faith, as in Football, there is a need for a team to gel together well; for gifts and abilities to complement one other for the good of all, with no room for a wrong spirit to prevent the goal being achieved.

This is what Christian fellowship should be about; it's what we're trying to achieve here at St Mary's.

If only we could be truly one with each other and in tune with the true teachings of Jesus, bearing the fruit of his spirit in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,

And also, if we could only rub shoulders with those who reject our message, with grace and ease and love.

Then would we hear a big roar from heaven crying,

' YEEEEEESSSSSSS!'

Amen