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A Midweek Musing on Practice- 4/17/2024

If you are a college football fan, you probably know what season of the year it is. It is spring practice. For coaches and players, it is actually a significant part of the season. Players get to see how they have improved in strength and speed and agility through the workouts they have been involved in during the offseason. Coaches get a chance to evaluate those same players. They also get a chance to work together with new players and new coaches. They begin to form and build community and the sense of camaraderie that coaches hope will carry over into the fall. Even though it is months away before any game action, coaches will tell you how important this time is for them. 

Of course, coaches are quick to tell you that the most crucial part of the season, even when a game is approaching, is the practices. Coaches remind players throughout the week that they play like they practice.

Some coaches tell players that practice makes perfect. I had a coach who, in colorful language, disagreed with that sentiment. He claimed to have never coached any perfect players or to have them perform perfectly, even in a practice drill. He said perfection was not attainable; however, he was clear that no one got better without practice.

In other words, he was convinced that while no one would ever be perfect and that no team would ever be perfect, the only way to get better and work towards that was by practicing hard and giving one's best effort.

I find it fascinating then that Christianity is known as a practice. We practice our faith. We do it in many different ways, but we never claim to perfect our faith. We practice prayer. We practice worship. We practice living together in the community we call the church. We practice faithfulness, and we practice giving. We practice forgiveness, and we practice allowing ourselves to be forgiven. We practice grace, and we practice love, and we practice living in hope. Even our relationships with one another require practice.

My wife and I have been married now for going on 30 years. Our marriage is based on our sacred promises and vows to God in the presence of family and friends. While I often will claim to be the perfect spouse, everyone knows I do so “tongue in cheek.” I have to practice every day being a good, loving partner and husband. Some days, I get it right, and many days, I get it wrong, and like an athlete who makes a mistake in practice, I try to learn from my failures and do better.

Friends, our Christian life is a practice. In a sense, it is a dress rehearsal that prepares us for that promised day when we will live in the Kingdom of God. The things that we do and say in this world help us to grow and become the people God hopes for us to be. All of our practices are meant to help us in doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God so that we might recognize the Kingdom when that day comes for our practice to be done and we enter into our Creator's arms - the victory finally ours.

So keep on practicing. Keep on serving and working and loving and worshipping and praying and doing the good that is yours to do. Know that you will never get it perfect but that you will never grow without engaging in such practices. So keep on practicing as an individual and as a member of the community of faith we call the church.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit 

Alleluia Amen.


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