Faith and Sports -- by Eric Jensen
We walk into January: a new beginning; Epiphany; the wise men. January truly is the beginning of the new year. In the Bible it’s the beginning of a new era: the Jesus Era. Such changes come along in sports as well. Often called “the changing of the guard” or the New Throne, I like to refer to it as passing the torch. It happens rarely: perhaps only 5-6 times in a person’s lifetime.
Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant. Kobe to Lebron James. Joe Montana to Brett Farve. Farve to Tom Brady. When these changes happen it is truly something special. The sport usually changes fundamentally because of this kind of succession, as did the world when Jesus was born. Think about it: without Jesus there would be no rise of Christianity. There would be no Bible. The fundamental pieces of our religion would not exist if Jesus had not come along.
Thus the passing of the torches (or as the Church would call it, “epiphanies”) are crucial to growth. Without passing the torch to the next great athlete, the sport never innovates. Without Jesus’s death, the work of the apostles and the creation of the Church is not started. So in that, Jesus’s death can also be an epiphany. Without the persecution of the apostles, the Catholic Church never forms. Without the resistance from Martin Luther, the Lutheran Church never forms. Without the Golden State Warriors, the Three ball never revolutionizes the way the game of basketball is played and taught. Without the evolution of helmets football dies, when eventually too many people are killed from playing in silly-looking leather hats.
Epiphany, as defined by the dictionary, is a moment of sudden realization. Without that realization, there is no innovation, and we are stuck in the past forever. So as we approach Epiphany, keep in mind there’s always a new one around the corner. There will always be a step forward. And for that, we have God to thank. Happy New Year.