This weekend, as all of Denver eagerly anticipates a Broncos win in Super Bowl 50, we have a special guest message from Joseph Wolyniak, our Theologian-In-Residence. Read on as he treats us to a meditation on the theology of sports, and how we can put our faith into action this Super Bowl 50. And of course, Go Broncos!
Faithfully in Christ,
A Meditation on Faith, the Denver Broncos, and Christian Service
by Joseph Wolyniak, Theologian-In-Residence
You can feel a palpable buzz in the air around Denver as we await the big event this upcoming Sunday... the Last Sunday after Epiphany! (C'mon, say it with me now: E-piph-a-ny! E-piph-a-ny!)
Oh, and did someone mention something about a certain, uh, football game? Perhaps, coincidentally, also coming up this Sun?
OK, feigned piety aside, this upcoming Super Bowl is a pretty big deal.
If you're anything like me, you're a little nervous. After all, we watched in utter disbelief when-just the year before last-our seemingly unstoppable Broncos imploded before our very eyes. And now, while our all-time great quarterback has etched his name in the record books and punched a ticket to the Hall of Fame, we've watched as injury after injury takes its toll. Our running game has been solid, if not spectacular. And our offensive line has had its issues. Not to mention the incredible talent on the other team, which led them to an almost perfect season with but one blip at the end. Carolina's elusive playmaker at quarterback and stout defense will make for quite a formidable foe.
And yet, this game has all the makings of a storybook ending. Just when most of us had completely counted Manning out, he astonishingly won back his starting job and guided our Broncos to an improbable AFC Championship over our long-loathed New England nemeses. Our league-leading defense has risen to the challenge time and again, proving true the old cliché about winning championships. And the new coaching staff seems to have won trust in their systems and schemes. If we close our eyes, we can almost see the guys in orange hoisting that Vince Lombardi Trophy as confetti rains from the sky. Still echoing out of the Broncos locker room is the resounding roar of our team's postgame rallying cry last week: "One more! One more!"
Whether in the thrill of victory or agony of defeat, we will watch.
But lest you think sports has little to do with our Christian faith, Pope Francis (an ardent devotee of that other kind of football), reminds us of the true gift of our devotion to athletic competition. Francis notes how "the language of sports is universal; it extends across borders, language, race, religion and ideology; it possesses the capacity to unite people, together, by fostering dialogue and acceptance." Far from a trivial pastime, he contends that sports is "a very valuable resource" and maintains that"the bond between the Church and the world of sports is a beautiful reality." http://bit.ly/1S1HOTp That fact was underscored when the Church of England and the Vatican squared off in a first-ever cricket match last year. (For the record, the Anglican team of mostly ordinands and young priests won. http://bit.ly/1PBzqI6)
Sports can be, often is, a beautiful thing indeed. One might even say, a gift from God.
As we come to the end of Epiphany, hearing that surpassing story of the Transfiguration and looking ahead to the start of Lent with Ash Wednesday this coming week, may we be mindful of a God who seeks always to reveal himself to us through even the most mundane things. A God who came to be with us in time that we might be with him in eternity. A God who delights in our joy, even that simple joy of watching a beloved team compete-and win.
This Sunday, as the chili cooks and Coors cools, I want you to invite you to do something a churchman doesn't usually encourage: put some money on the game. No, not on the 5.5 point spread or 44.5 over/under in Vegas. I'm talking about the #EpiscopalShowdown challenge in the mitre-to-mitre clash between the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. In competition at its very best, this contest pits two Episcopal fanbases against one another to see who can raise the most money for Episcopal Relief & Development-an organization that not only works to better the lives of the poorest of the poor across the world, but also partners with dioceses to provide rapid response to natural disasters closer to home home (such as those devastating floods that ravaged Colorado in 2013).
Please give generously: $18, $58, or $94 in honor of your favorite player, or $1,000 in honor of the amount of points we might well score. Your gifts could not go to a better cause. http://dioco.org/showdown.html
Enjoy the game. And GO BRONCOS!
Music with Dan Romero