It's Not Over Till It's Over: A Message from Bishop Anderson
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Advent Season, the season in the church year for personal spiritual preparation for Christ's return and secondarily, preparation for celebrating his birthday, has been co-opted by the culture. The culture in the United States treats it as either 1) the Winter Holiday Buying Season, 2) a season to be confused about how to greet people in a politically correct way - is it Happy Holidays, or Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or something else that I haven't thought of?
It does seem odd that the season designed as preparation has been turned around to celebrate something in advance, and then when the date actually arrives people start taking down their Christmas decorations fairly promptly. In any event, it is the second Sunday in Advent this weekend, and it's not too late to be asking the Lord how he wants to be involved in your life in the next year ahead.
I am not one to watch nonstop sports on television, though my 99 year old mother, soon to turn 100, does watch and she keeps me abreast of football, baseball and basketball games. A portion of one game last week was watched by nearly everyone, either in real time or on replay, and that was the Alabama-Auburn game. I live halfway between Georgia Tech and the Georgia Bulldogs, and passions in the South run very high during football season, so I am careful in my declarations of football loyalty. I do know that when either of the Alabama teams come to Georgia, they are intent on mischief.
Nevertheless, there is something to be learned from the last few moments of the Alabama-Auburn game. It was tied with only seconds left on the clock, Alabama in possession but a little far downfield for kicking a field goal. They chose to try a long distance kick, apparently thinking they had nothing to lose. The kick almost made it, but as it happened there was an Auburn player standing right where the ball fell.
He caught it, almost by reflex, and it must have startled him, but then he did the natural thing, he ran with it as fast as his legs could carry him, out of his end zone area and down field. For a microsecond everyone was shocked. There was no whistle to blow the ball dead. He had caught it and it was a live ball in play. Everyone came alive, Alabama players chased him, Auburn players blocked and shielded him, and in a moment he had covered over 100 yards and scored the winning touchdown. The difference between a good day and a bad day in this case amounted to a few seconds.
In football, the takeaway is the ball isn't dead or out of play until the whistle blows. In life, and especially in our spiritual life, you aren't out of play until the whistle blows, either. As we age through the various seasons of life, never think that God is done with you, or that you are retired and living on God's pension. The pension years come later, in heaven, and as long as you and I have breath we are players on the field, even if we're on one of God's specialty squads. I don't know how God wants to use you personally during this next year, but I do know that he does want to use you in a capacity that is tailored to your ability and gifting, and that in letting God use you, you will be blessed and you will bless others.
Remember, and this is for you personally, keep running until you hear the whistle blow, or as the apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13b, "...forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus." How can you and the Lord run the ball downfield in the next six months or year? Ask him!
Blessings and Peace in Jesus,
The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson,
President & CEO, American Anglican Council