Ed White, Senior Pastor
Lea Griffith, Associate Pastor
The Congregation, Ministers

Glimpses of Grace and Truth in daily life... When last night’s All Star Game went into extra innings, and I remembered that our Wednesday morning Men’s Prayer Breakfast means a very early morning, I headed off to bed. I couldn’t help but think about how much I have enjoyed playing, coaching and, to a lesser extent, watching sports. While baseball and soccer were a lot of fun to play and coach, neither one is exciting enough for me to sit and watch often on television unless it’s baseball’s All - Star Game or soccer’s World Cup.

In the 2014 World Cup Soccer matches (2018 is our next one), the US Team faced a stronger, much stronger team from Belgium. Somehow the match was tied at 0 - 0 at the end of the 90 - minute regulation and ended only 2 - 1 after another 30 minutes of overtime. If all you saw was the scoreboard, you might miss the lopsided - ness of the match. But if you looked at statistics or watched the game, you knew how lopsided it was. The score was close but only because, the US goalie, Tim Howard made more blocks (or saves) on goal than anyone in the last 50 years of World Cup Soccer. Howard’s performance was even more impressive when you recognize that he has Tourrete’s Syndrome.

Over the next 24 hours following the game, many people tweeted about Howard’s performance, often pointing to his faith, and some made interesting, somewhat funny comparisons to Jesus. One person said, “The difference between Jesus and Tim Howard: Jesus had eleven guys he could trust.” Tim Howard’s game was so great that someone got onto the Wikipedia page for the United States Secretary of Defense and posted a picture of Tim Howard saying he was the Secretary of Defense. That small act made its way to the actual US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, who called Howard the next day and congratulated him.

As has been the case for many years, Tim’s game, his outside activities, his whole life have been focused on one purpose: to bring glory to God. Tim said his grandmother, (who filled in gaps after his father left when Tim was two) has always had a strong faith that gave her a peace about everything. Her faith inspired him to give his heart to and live his life for Christ. CNN started its feature article on Tim Howard with, “Here’s what you need to know about Tim Howard,” and the first thing it said next was “He is a devout Christian.” CNN quoted an interview Howard gave sometime back when he said, “The most important thing in my life is Christ.” As reporter after reporter, news anchor after news anchor tried to give Howard a lot of credit, Howard deflected those comments like an 80 mph soccer ball to show that he did not want any spotlight on him. His goal was to ensure the whole team was complimented and that God was glorified.

Tim Howard shows that some things are much more worth defending than a 24 - foot soccer goal. Howard’s life urges us, like we discussed two Sundays ago, to remember that our country was born and today still stands because men and women sacrificed so much not defending a piece of ground or a bank account, not defending an economic system or social system; they sacrificed for deeper things of faith and life. And as we discussed last Sunday, our men and women, fathers and mothers, grandparents and greats, must reclaim our birthright as children of God to invest more of our time, energy, and resources on equipping the next generation to do more than win a home - run derby or defend a 24 - foot goal; we must grow their faith and love, to one day say, “The most important thing in my life is Christ.” If we can begin making that kind of turn, committing to things that ultimately matter, the next generation will find themselves guarding goals that are worth defending and being part of a team they will never regret.

We are so glad you are part of that team serving Christ here: Ed, Lea and the First UMC Family