We don’t mean to offend the Pope, but Becky and I are heading out of town this weekend. We’ll be in Auburn, Alabama, where we will meet our daughter and son-in-law and stay with his wonderful parents. And we’ll attend Saturday’s Auburn-Mississippi State football game. We are looking forward to a good time.
In preparation for the game, Becky bought us each an orange shirt, blue and orange being Auburn’s colors. It gets more complicated after that. We will be rooting for the Auburn Tigers, of course, but will need to be tutored as to when we are to yell, “War Eagle!” and when to scream “Go Tigers!” Yeah, the mascot is a tiger, but it’s the eagle that gets the fans going. As far as I know, there will not be a caged tiger at Jordan-Hare Stadium, but there will be an eagle flying a couple of laps around the stadium before kick-off. This is a new eagle just past his rookie season. His predecessor, Tiger, died prior to the beginning of last season.
We’ve got a lot to learn, and there are definitely some mysteries involved in being an Auburn football fan.
I suppose church is sort of like an Auburn football game. Being a part of the church means learning all sorts of new things and accepting other things that are shrouded in mystery.
We would not be stopped at the gate if we wore other than orange to the Auburn game. There is no dress code. But we want to be a part of what’s going on, twelfth man and all that. So the new orange shirts. There’s no dress code at LPC; you’re welcome no matter what you wear. But being part of the team means that we learn the norms – at LPC it happens to be what most would call dress casual, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. At a deeper level, the norm is that how we dress shows respect to who we’re with. At worship we are with God’s people and in God’s presence. We show some respect. Not being a coat and tie church doesn’t mean we don’t respect God and God’s people, but wearing the same thing we’d wear for a nice evening out with good friends does.
There’s a story behind the tiger and the war eagle. I’ve heard it before and I expect to hear it again this weekend. One day it will make sense. The lively tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, between grace and law, forgiveness and wrath, Word and Spirit, can be a mystery to those new to Christian faith and life. But those tensions begin to make sense, if not dissolve, the longer we live in relationship with God, the more stories of the Christian life we hear.
It is a terribly flawed analogy, but Tiger or War Eagle? The answer is Yes. Father, Son, or Holy Spirit? The answer is Yes.
Things to learn, mysteries to probe. Sounds like a weekend of Auburn football. And a little bit like church.
I won’t see you Sunday, but “Go Tigers!” and “War Eagle!”