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200 East Parkway North, Memphis, TN 38112 ⋅ Office: 901.454.1131

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Expressing Our Devotion

  Chances are you have seen it by now—the viral video of the Lutheran minister in Montana who proclaimed his sermon would be one minute due to the start time of a playoff game.  He told all present that they could help themselves to the communion elements, then proceeded to reveal that beneath his robe was a San Francisco 49er t-shirt, before he walked out the back of the church.  Now, as I understand it, he was just joking about the fact that he would not be preaching.  Makes you wonder what his sermon really was about.  Maybe it was one that called into question where our deepest sympathies lie—God or football?

  You remember those days and those sermons, don’t you?  They usually were always focused around the Super Bowl and whether or not we were going to cancel Sunday night worship to accommodate our devotion to the pigskin.  Thankfully, most churches I know of have moved beyond that.  Indeed, many have found a way to accommodate the game, making it an opportunity for fellowship.  As I write, I’m already aware of two groups in our own church that will be getting together to watch the game.  

  Of course, the NFL has struck back in this battle, too.  Did you know that it is actually against the law to show the game at church to a group of more than just a handful?  To do so you are supposed to pay a fee, and about 8 years ago, the NFL brought charges against several churches.  Thankfully the backlash over such action was so great that the NFL backed down.  But still, in going as far as they went, one was made quite aware that the NFL was first and foremost devoted to money.

  All of these situations, along with a certain romantic holiday of this month, raise the question of devotion.  To whom or to what are you devoted?  For whom or what will you drop everything?  What is the pecking order of your devotion?  What comes first, second, third?   The challenge of our faith is to be single minded.  “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”  “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness...”   “What confession brings you to these waters?... Jesus Christ is Lord.”

  These are familiar words that roll rather easily off the tongue for those of us raised in church, and yet when you see them in the light of these questions, the implication can seem rather harsh, unreasonable, almost impossible.  And, I think, that is the way it is supposed to be.  These commands, these calls to commitment are not meant to be glossed over quickly.   But note, too, that scripture never assumes that God will be our only devotion.  Indeed, it assumes just the opposite.  It assumes that since we are devoted to God, that we will care about what God cares about—family, friends, the poor, creation, justice, etc. And that we will display that loyalty in the right way, with the right priorities, with action as well as words.  In other words, our devotion to God becomes the lens through which we evaluate and express all other devotions.

  February will give us an opportunity to express our devotion to God and specifically God’s work in and through the life of First Baptist Church.  You will be hearing much about vision and stewardship, and you will be called upon to participate, to commit, and to serve.  May our devotion to God give us eyes to see, and ears to hear, and hearts and arms ready to receive and to respond to all that God has in store for us.  

Grace, David


This article was written by Rev. Dr. David Breckenridge and originally published in the February edition of Together.
Posted by Bridget Ellis at 11:08 AM
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