Sunday, May 22, 2011

What'll we do on Sunday without the NFL?

I was waiting for a story like this -- Ray Lewis thinks crime will increase with no NFL season. With Ray's checkered past one would be excused for thinking the future Hall of Fame linebacker had himself in mind. I mean, do you want Ray Lewis wandering around your town on Sunday with nothing to do? But no, Lewis was making a prediction about society as a whole, and sad to say, I think he could be right. Here's the quote:

"Do this research if we don't have a season -- watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game."

"There's too many people that live through us, people live through us," he said. "Yeah, walk in the streets, the way I walk the streets, and I'm not talking about the people you see all the time."

Can't argue with that. Millions of Americans do indeed live their lives through the men of the National Football League (intoned in my best Harry Kalas voice). But I'm not here to criticize or defend that. Instead, Ray Lewis's comments raised another question in my mind. What other things might increase if there isn't a 2011 NFL season?

The Sabbath is a contentious issue among Christians, particularly among those in the Reformed corner of the Christian world. Those who trace their lineage back to the Dutch Reformed tradition often believe -- based on Hebrews 4:1-11 and other texts -- that the Sabbath was done away with in Christ. Those of us who trace our lineage back to the Scots Presbyterians and English Puritan tradition tend to be more on the side of those who say that serious observance of the Sabbath -- or Lord's Day -- is still required of us. Since the last time I checked the 4th commandment is still in the Bible; I'd say keeping the Sabbath holy is a command that still needs to be reckoned with. I think the Westminster Confession of Faith gets it about right, though how it's interpreted will differ.

This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy. (WCF 21.8)

At the very least it's incumbent on us to view the Lord's Day differently than the other six days of the week (and I'll be the first to admit I have a long way to go here). Do most American believers treat Sunday differently? I would say no. I'll go out on a limb and guess that the Sunday schedule of many Christians is shaped more by NFL football than any of the things listed above i.e., holy rest from worldly employments and recreations, public and private exercises of worship, duties of necessity and mercy. So I'm actually rooting for the NFL lockout to continue. Imagine all the good that can be done when there isn't football to watch on Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening, and even Sunday morning if you count the endless pre-game shows. Yes, crime may increase, but so might the items on this off-the-top-of-my-head list.

- Attendance in Lord's Day worship

- Bible reading

- Prayer and meditation

- Family devotions

- Visiting the sick

- Sunday afternoon naps

- Inviting a lonely person over for Sunday dinner

- Long walks

- Picking up the phone and calling someone you have a grudge against, or who has a grudge against you

- And last but not least, with no NFL football, maybe the second service (Sunday night) will make a comeback.

Wouldn't that be something?

Go owners go!

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