The natural point most people focus on from today’s Gospel reading (Luke 18:18-27) is the famous line involving a rich man, the kingdom of God, and a camel through the eye of a needle. But I have always been fascinated by the story of the young man who, after his conversation with Jesus, walks away. Jesus doesn’t chase him saying “please come back” or making some sort of compromise. He sets the table, lets him know what is up, and leaves him to his own free will. Jesus will, no doubt, always be there for the rich young man, but that is up to him. This reminds me of the ongoing controversy, or at least dissatisfaction, in some circles with Sunday morning sports.
This is a topic on which I respectfully disagree with my friend and brother-in-Christ Fr. Luke. Fr. Luke gathered other clergy from his city in Webster and wrote to the newspapers and local leagues and coaches about the importance of Sunday morning. And the leagues responded by not scheduling games Sunday morning. On the surface, this is a good thing, and I think it is great that Fr. Luke and the other pastors took the initiative on this. On the other hand, though, I think it is also a compromise that we do not need to make. By asking the leagues to change, aren’t we basically admitting we have an inferior offering compared to their superior one? If people are choosing to send their kids to sports on Sunday mornings, then they are making that choice. I feel we need to emphasize the importance and quality of what we have to offer rather than give up, say that it is inevitable that people would choose sports over church, and duly ask the leagues to benevolently change the times.
We don’t own Sunday mornings. Things are different these days – businesses are open, church does not seem to be as much of a priority for many, and sports are played. So there is much competition. But we have the best thing there could possibly be to offer: The divine liturgy, hopefully well-done and with challenging and inspiring sermons, good fellowship, and a great experience of beauty, spirituality and friendship. I think we need to push this rather than give in to the inevitability of sports winning out.