Many people like to say that Sunday football is becoming the new Sunday worship service. I hope this is not true, but I can report there is lots of praying going on in the NFL! Last Sunday, on one channel at the start of the game, they showed a team taking a minute to pray before they went on the field. At the end of the Redskins-Lions Game, they showed the Lion’s Coach speaking with his team. He said, “Let’s take a minute to pray and then let’s go back out on the field and greet the fans who have stayed to celebrate.”
Praying for the Big Game
It is not so unusual to see athletes praying and I have noticed many teams do pray together before a game. I was struck however with how comfortable coaches, athletes, and the TV cameras are with showing so many expressions of prayer and faith. A little later in the day, I saw an interview with Jim Caldwell, the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. He was asked to tell people something about himself because he is unknown to many people. The first thing he said was “I am a Christian.” It seems to me that Coach Caldwell is also an evangelizer—on the job—in the community—and at home.
Proudly and Boldly
So, tired of football, I watched The Amazing Race, which pits 12 team in a race around the world. In the first segment, when each team introduces themselves, a couple began their introduction by saying “We’re Christians.” The skeptic in me thinks there is a good chance that the producers of the Amazing Race chose to edit the introduction to suit their purpose in building a story line. If you’re a fan of this show, you know it can get annoying as the producers create or suggest tensions between teams who are quite different from one another. That said it is refreshing to hear people speak proudly and boldly of their faith and how it shapes the way they look at life.
I feel the need to say that I don’t typically spend so much time watching TV but by the end of the day I was thinking how often do I begin an introduction of myself with “I am a Catholic” or how many times have I heard others begin with sharing to what faith they belong.
It Begins at Being Christian
My impression is that for people like Coach Caldwell “Christian” is their starting point, and that the rest of who they are is understood in light of what it means to be a Christian. It reminds me of the story of Perpetua, one of the early Christian martyrs. In a conversation with her father, who was suggesting she not publicly call herself a Christian, so as to avoid persecution she replies; “Father,” said I, “Do you see…this vessel lying, a pitcher or whatsoever it may be?” And he said, “I see it.” And I said to him, “Can it be called by any other name than that which it is?” And he answered, “No.” “So can I call myself nought other than that which I am, a Christian”
If you begin an introduction with “I am A Catholic,” will it then shape the rest of what you say?