Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation (Psalm 111:1, ESV).
In 2015, The Ohio State University won the first college football playoff.
This blog isn’t ultimately about Ohio State or even football, so Michigan fans can continue reading. It won’t be offensive to Oregon fans either (who Ohio State defeated).
My son and I attended the game. He called me and asked, “Dad, can we go to the playoff game? I have tickets.” I’m a football fan, and what an opportunity to build a memory with my son.
We had a good view of the field – seats high enough in the stadium so the entire field could be seen. Hanging in front of us was a huge digital screen. I could see both the far look of the field and then close-ups of plays and players.
But the most enjoyable part of the entire game was the fans we sat next to.
We could watch far or close, but every time Ohio State did something good, we stood together and cheered. And every time something went wrong for the Buckeyes, together we blamed the refs!
By the end of the game, we were best friends.
We knew each other’s names. Our common cause gave us reason to do things in one another’s presence that you typically wouldn’t do in the company of strangers – screaming, clapping, high fives, screaming at refs, and spilling soda on one another (at least me – most of them had another beverage).
When the clock ticked off the final seconds, our team was the national champion.
We rose in unison and cheered for about three decades (15 minutes in football cheering time). I still feel the joy of that moment and remember my newfound friends. I know their first names, one of their wives’ names, a dog’s name, and the best bass fishing boat to purchase (What else do you do during long TV ad breaks?).
They even knew that I was a pastor. They accepted my faith and profession but unfortunately, my faith and profession didn’t improve some of their more expletive heartfelt shouts.
Something about standing together in common cause – life is better, there is hope, all is well – at least for 15 minutes.
Let’s consider worship and Pastor Grant’s Theory of Praise.
You can watch worship on TV – see the “field,” close-ups of worship, and even the pastor’s face. But have no unity with the other “fans”.
In church, you may sit next to a different sister or brother every weekend. It’s given that some worship is better than others, but it will happen sooner or later, maybe on Christmas Eve or Easter morning – you will stand in unity and shout praise for the victory of Jesus.
You will be changed.
The people around you will be changed. You will know one another better. You may even go out to lunch or ask them to join your small group.
I went to one College Football Championship game. I’m going to church next weekend.