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June 7 Post

"I appeal to you, therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:1-2

Most of us watch sports or play sports as a way of life. Whether glued to the NBA playoff games between the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets, or tuned into summer sailing regattas, we love to engage our bodies in the world. While 20% of us actually play a sport or regularly exercise, and 70% enjoy rooting for our favorite teams from the sidelines, we celebrate the capacities of our bodies to do magnificent things.

I suspect that many of us compartmentalize what we do on Sunday, or whenever we engage in worship and spiritual activity, from the avocations of sport that occupy our daily practice and ritual. I’m curious about what difference it makes if we consider that how we move our bodies constitutes a form of worship. What if we engage in yoga or a spinning class as an act of devotion to God, developing our capacity to move with power and flexibility in the world just as we develop spiritual practices like prayer?

Our playfulness and creativity come from God’s good gift of creation. Across all cultures, people enjoy play as an integral part of what it means to be made in the image of God. Just watch any child for ten minutes, and you will observe that we’re born to play. God created us to be playful, and God created us to be relational. We enjoy engaging with one another in team sports, and we enjoy tailgate barbecues before the big game with family and friends.

You may imagine that God watches over creation from a box seat at the Boston Celtics arena, or wherever your preferred team is. Though the Celtics are great, having been totally cheated out of the NBA finals, I suspect God is much more interested in the devotion shown by athletes who start and end their games with prayer, looking skyward, closing their eyes in devotion and gratitude. We observe their petitions for good health, to do their best, and to play fair. And whether they win or lose, faith-filled athletes offer their bodies as a gift to God for God’s pleasure.

We show up for all of life as people of faith, with all our splendid resources and capacities. In all that we do, we offer ourselves to God for God’s glory and our joy. As Christians, we really can worship God through sport.

Prayer: Holy One, you know, that I know, that whether I can barely walk to the kitchen sink or run a marathon, I belong to you. Help me to show up today with whatever I’ve got, for you. Amen

God’s grace, mercy, and peace be with you,

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland

Senior Minister, The Community Church of Vero Beach, Florida

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