As I sit here and write this article, today starts one of the largest sporting events in the world outside of the Summer & Winter Olympics. June 14 through July 15 is the World Cup. This soccer, or fútbol, tournament is a worldwide tournament that starts with 32 different countries represented. As I said, today starts the culmination of a journey that these men have been on for over a year as they’ve had to qualify by defeating other countries.
This tournament only takes place every four years and it seems to draw people together in a way that few events can. You can watch ESPN or the sports section of your nightly news and see short video clips of fans from all over the world cheering wildly for their home countries and favorite players. The World Cup is the type of event that causes the most apathetic soccer fans, or even non-soccer fans, to take an interest and follow the games. I’ve got a friend who is an engineer in Memphis who is actually taking vacation days from work so that he can watch the United States play. I re- member a man from my home church growing up telling me years ago that he essentially had to close his roofing compa- ny on the days that his worker’s home country played in this tournament due to the fact that they all called in “sick” on this day.
Eight years ago, in 2010, I remember watching the United States play a game in the T.V. section of Best Buy in Hattiesburg with about 10 random people I had never met before. It was a dramatic game where the United States won at the very end. We were all high fiving and celebrating like we had been best friends for years. Since that game, I have not seen any of the people I watched and celebrated with but for that brief moment in time, it didn’t matter that we didn’t know each other. It didn’t matter that we were different ages, genders, or races. All that mattered is that, for those few minutes, we were unified under one cause. Despite our differences, all we were concerned about was what we had in common.
I remember thinking to myself as I drove home that this is how Christians should treat their brothers and sisters. I remember wondering to myself why I didn’t share this same enthusiasm with other believers whenever we got to worship Christ together? Why can we loudly and openly celebrate a 90th minute goal made by Landon Donavon but are shy and maybe even shameful when it comes to openly and joyously celebrating our Creator, Lord, and Savior?
Psalm 145:4-7 says, “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.”
On July 8 and August 12, we are going to have a special worship service. These are not being offered as a new style of worship because, just as the God of creation is the same God of today, the worship we offer is the same worship He received from the New Testament Church 2000 years ago. I encourage you to join us on these nights as we gather to- gether to lift high the name of Christ through the singing of His praises and the studying of His Word. These times of wor- ship are simply being called The Gathering because our desire, as your church staff, is to see this church gathered to- gether for His glory.