Better Than Football

I love football. Even watch reruns of games. The games I watch don’t have to be teams I care about. I love the noise, the strategy, the energy of the crowd, the players. All of it. Makes me sad that I might miss a whole season this year.

But I attended an event at my church that’s way better than football. In this event, people of all ages enter from behind a wall, their name and picture gracing the screens to either side of a clear opening, high above the auditorium. There is a uniform of sorts. Dark pants, and a white shirt. Each participant carries a sheet of paper and steps down into a large tank of cool water. They each read from the paper, occasionally looking up and adding a personal remark. Many cry. All are determined. They share what Jesus Christ has done in their lives. Their stories are all different yet all alike.

They are different because they come from all walks of life. A few are children, one man a self-made attorney, who realized he wasn’t self-sufficient—just a regular old sinner. There’s a homemaker and a biker. A mother and a daughter. Their stories sound like a magnificent melody.

They’re alike in that Jesus saved them. Not anything they have done, not anything they will do. Not who they are or who they aren’t. It’s all Him.

I’m glad.

An audience cheers for them. Many of them cry, too. Some cry because they remember their own stories. Some cry because they love the person in the story. Some just watch and listen.

There is another participant. He waits in the water. After the participant shares their story, he tells them to kneel down and quotes from the Bible. He says, “Because of your confession of faith in Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” As he says this, he lowers them into the water and as he pulls them up he finishes with, “Raised to walk in newness of life.”

Then there is more cheering, more crying, more clapping. When that happens, I can’t stop smiling.

Funny thing about football. I really do love it. I cheer for my team and throw a ‘bad call brick’ when the referee makes a mistake. But I have trouble remembering who won the Super Bowl last year. It was really important when it happened, but afterwords, it fades in my memory, and eventually in the memory of all.

The stories I heard at baptism never fade. They will be told throughout eternity.

And that’s a long time.

They are eternal redemption stories about the All Supreme Christ. Who was and is and will be.

Now, that’s something to cheer about.

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