Friday, October 01, 2010

Kneeling in the End Zone Game of the Week

  • Game: Cardiff City at Barnsley, Football League Championship, 9:00 a.m. CST

  • Synopsis: In the 18-year history of the English Premier League, all of the teams that have played in the league have been from England. (Makes a certain amount of sense.) But if Cardiff City, currently second in the Football League Championship, continues playing at a high level, that will change next year. For the first time ever, one of the teams in England's most prestigious football league will be from Wales.* The Bluebirds narrowly missed out on promotion last season and are poised to be one of the three Championship teams that makes the jump to the EPL in 2011. Can a Welsh team break into the highest tier of English soccer?

    The early church was a Jewish group that worshiped in the temple in Jerusalem and followed the Torah. Prior to his vision of the unclean animals, Peter hadn't considered that non-Jewish people might also have a place in the church. Reluctantly and at God's urging, Peter visited a Gentile man named Cornelius, told him the good news of Christ, and welcomed him into the community of faith. This episode, along with Philip baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch, initiated a mission among the Gentiles that would see the establishment of churches throughout the Greco-Roman world. There was a place in the church for Gentiles, much as there may be a place in the EPL for a Welsh team.

    This weekend, as you keep tabs on Cardiff City-Barnsley, think and pray about people whom your church may be excluding or overlooking. How can you welcome these people into your faith community?

    Lest I exclude or overlook Cardiff City's opponent, I should mention that Barnsley has the unfortunate distinction of having spent more years in the second tier of English soccer than any other club (65 seasons in all). The Tykes are currently in 13th place in the Championship, so their chances of being promoted to the EPL next year are not good. If you're a Barnsley fan, I'd recommend getting a copy of my book Kneeling in the End Zone: Spiritual Lessons From the World of Sports and reading chapter 1, "Hope Amid Wilderness and Exile."

* To be clear, two Welsh teams—Cardiff City and Swansea City—have competed in the top tier of English soccer. But neither has played at the top level since the creation of the Premier League in 1992. Swansea last played in the First Division in 1983, Cardiff in 1962.


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