Pastor’s Email Devotion
The Week of Pentecost 20
October 11, 2015
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2, NRSV)
We go to early worship. There are only a few of us, but it is important to start the day as disciples. We share in the same sacrament that we have shared in before. Although we are occasional worshippers at best, we know the ritual, and follow it. We are faithful. More followers will come later. High mass will be Saturday at 12:00 noon. More than a hundred-thousand believers will gather then. But for now it is just us on a quiet Friday morning. We observe the rite … at the Shrine … the Lion Shrine. We take the obligatory homecoming weekend pictures at the Lion Statue. Each of us must partake and be pictured, but especially little Sam. He is the newest disciple. He must be indoctrinated into the rite of “pictures at the Shrine.” So he is in a lot of pictures, more than anyone else. We also take pictures of other believers who gather, so they can also have complete family pictures with the Lion. We have had the same done for us. It is part of the rite. As is also expected, we compliment the vestments others wear, especially the children – they must be nurtured in the faith. On this day, it is a little girl in a cheerleader outfit, complete with a blue and white pompom. Worship closes with the liturgical dismissal, “Go State.”
Although my particular denomination in this cult is “Blue Band” and not “football” it amounts to about the same thing … utter adoration for an experience that has helped shape your life, or in our case, the lives of our children. Both of our two drank deeply from the Blue Band well. It’s all good stuff. Both our kids had leadership opportunities and travel opportunities, and the spirit of camaraderie and discipline characterized by such groups and activities. But some days it almost feels bigger than life. And when you are on campus on “football days” there truly is a cult-like feel to the campus. While I certainly allow myself to embrace and enjoy the experience, it does give me pause. And it starts me thinking about other “experiences” in my life that take on “bigger than life” proportions. Places where I become so enmeshed in what I am doing, that I lose sight of other experiences that shape me … my faith, my morals, my core values in life. Places where I lose myself, a bit, and may be at risk of making choices that I would never make outside of that experience. Places where I lose sight of the principles that guide what I do with my time and resources and talents. The Bible has a word for this, though as I ponder typing it, it feels so harsh … so severe … idolatry. Allowing yourself to be so attached to a thing or experience, that it gets in the way of your relationship with God. I recognize that Penn State football is not a religion. But I also think about the amount of time and money and devotion dedicated to it. It simply gives me pause, and seems to invite me to take a look at many things that I do, which sometimes take on bigger than life proportions. Maybe you will consider doing the same. Tread carefully. It is not an activity for the faint of heart.
Dear God, you are indeed the one true God. You are the Creator of Heaven and Earth. You alone are my Rock and my Redeemer. You know, Lord, that no other “god” in my life displaces you. But there are times when my loyalty is split, when I “worship” other gods. There are times I find it hard to surrender everything to you. I want to hang on to that which gives me safety and control. Forgive me, dear Lord, when I allow other “gods” into your presence. Help me, by your grace and through your Spirit, to have no other “god” in your presence.
~~ Prayer from Mark Roberts, www.thehighcalling.com