Kate, Vanessa, Taylor, Bryce, Eric, and Ian (I’ve named you in the order you usually sit around the table in the Confirmation Room), today you are joining a new team, and for some of you it’s one more team, added to soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, basketball, track, and the onstage teams of drama or music.
Today you are making the Jesus Team as you answer “I do.” and “I promise, with the help of God.” to the questions your parents answered for you, and now you answer for yourself.
It’s a team that will list your name on the roster for the rest of your life.
Unlike other teams from which you can be disqualified with an injury or poor grades or being bumped off by someone who can out-play you, or your joints wear out – and you become a candidate for a new hip or knee, or you can’t get your breath, you are on Jesus’ Team for the rest of your life, until you take your last breath.
Until then, feel the thrill of looking up into the bleachers, into the faces of people who are cheering you on in the word-picture we see in a New Testament letter we find in our Sunday morning exercise in Confirmation Class. Today:
Open the Bible in the middle – usually to the longest book of Psalms, then the section to the right in the middle – usually to one of the four Gospels, and finally the remaining right section to the middle to get to the
letters, and turn pages until we come to the Letter to the Hebrews, chapter 12 and read we are running the
race “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.”
Imagine the faces you see in that crowd: your favorite character in your favorite Bible story, people you’ve learned about as you study history, people you’ve met in your own lifetime, people like Mother Teresa or a rock star or athlete or relative or teacher or coach or mentor you look up to, a person of whom you can say, “I want to be just like him/her.” a person who is literally coaching you to discover talents you never knew you had and encouraging you to use them.
Today’s your day to thank that person, a "thank you" which I must confess I have failed to give. All through high school and up to today, people have been a mentor, a counselor, a cheerleader for me, and I have often failed to thank them. For some it is too late; we won't meet until we see one another on the other side of death. Till then, I live with the guilt and disappointment of never letting them know how grateful I am for all they have done for me. Remember to say "thanks."
Look around and see who is on team, playing with you: people of every race and age and nation and language,
who, like you, are all naming the same Person of all persons who is both the Captain and Coach and gives the team its name: JESUS.
And what holds the team together is that everyone shares the common pledge: Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus… so that no one stands out as the team’s superstar, vying for the Outstanding Player of the Year Award.
Each plays “with the mind of Jesus” Who is the head, the brains of the team, also known as “His Body” and “His church.” Each is playing by His rules which hold everyone to: serving as Jesus has shown how to serve one another, loving one another as Jesus loves all, wearing His cross on the heart not the uniform or T-shirt.
Each plays with the goal in sight, of the day when: at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Last month newspapers like the New York Times posted the notice of the death of the 91 year-old Episcopalian priest, Rev. Malcolm Boyd. For people who lived through places like Woodstock and times like the March on Selma, he was a voice they knew and his sermons were poems preached in nightclubs, campuses, city squares, and circulated through his book, Are You Running with Me Jesus, a title taken from his morning prayer:
Where am I running? … What counts most is just that somebody knows, and it’s you. That helps a lot.
So I’ll follow along okay? But lead, Lord. Now I’ve got to run. Are you running with me, Jesus?
The answer is, “Yes, I’m running with you who let My mind be in you.” In another prayer Malcolm Boyd asked what you, too might want to add, “Help me onto my feet. Help me get up.”
Kate, Vanessa, Taylor, Bryce, Eric, and Ian, welcome to the Jesus Team! Run, knowing that Jesus has promised to run with you. Amen.