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Dropkick Me, Jesus

Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge
Preached October 10, 2004 at MCC Columbia
Scripture reading: 1 Corinthians 12:14-27


Dropkick me Jesus through the goalposts of life
End over end neither left nor to right
Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights
Dropkick me Jesus through the goalposts of life

Make me, Oh make me, Lord, more than I am
Make me a piece in Your master game plan
Free from the earthly tempestion below
I've got the will, Lord, if You got the toe.

REFRAIN

Bring on the brothers, who've gone on before
And all of the sisters, who've knocked on your door
All the departed, dear, loved ones of mine
Stick 'em up front in the offensive line.

-Bobby Bare


There's a game that's played here in America called football. Not to be confused with what the Europeans call football, because we all know the proper name for that is "soccer."

This thing they call "football" is a game in which 11 players on each team face off against one another on a rectangular field whose dimensions are 53 1/3 by 100 yards. If your team has the ball you have four chances, called "downs," to run ten yards to get what they call a "first down." The goal, when your team has the ball, is to take that ball and move it to the other side of the field and get what's called a touchdown. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

Have you ever heard of this game? Yes? Really? You could have fooled me, because I don't know what game you think you're playing out there today, but it sure isn't football.

It looks like you're all working at a German bakery - you've been making turnovers all day. Perhaps we should send our quarterbacks to Cuba, because we know they could overthrow Castro! Are you trying to get a date with someone on the other team, because they sure are intercepting all of your passes! What are you doing out there? Where is your head? It's not in the game, I can tell you that much, not the way you're playing today.

Here we are already at halftime and you're losing, badly. You've lost your way out there. You see, when you play football, you can't just get a bunch of folks together and expect them to just go out and run around the field. You've got to work like a team - you've got to practice together and learn together and build a rapport together. I have yet to see one quarterback win a game - or one linebacker, or one safety, or one running back, or one center. You play football with a team - not a bunch of people doing their own thing.

Perhaps we should take this halftime break to review our game plan. Now, at the risk of sounding like a preacher - let me paraphrase that great coach, Paul of Tarsus. "Now the team is not made up of one part but of many. If the running back says, 'Because I am not a quarterback, I do not belong to the team,' it would not for that reason cease to be part of the team. And if the linebacker should say, 'Because I am not a place kicker, I do not belong to the team,' it would not for that reason cease to be part of the team. If the whole team were a center, who would receive the ball and advance it down the field? If the whole team were a running back, who would block for him? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the team, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the team be? As it is, there are many parts, but one team."

Now that doesn't mean that as a part of that team you won't get your chance to shine - or your chance to be the goat. As Mary Chapin Carpenter sings, "sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug." Just ask Syvelle Newton, the Gamecock quarterback who threw a record breaking 324 passing yards to beat Troy State. He was the windshield that day! But where would he have been without Troy Williamson to catch the ball? He was the windshield, but he had to have the rest of the parts of the car to make it all work! He had to have a team.

But, there are days when you can be the bug, too. Just ask Clemson's long snapper Geoff Rigsby who bounced the snap to punter Cole Chason in that heartbreaking loss to Georgia Tech! He splattered all over that windshield! But, you know what? His teammates didn't turn on him. They didn't say to him, "we don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the team that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. But God has combined the members of the team and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the team, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

How do we begin to function as a team? First, we have to realize that we're on one. Look around the room. This is your team. This is your community. These are your brothers and sisters who you rely on to get the ball down the field. These are the teammates you hold dear because you are pushing toward the same goal - them righteous uprights. But, we will not win the game unless we trust each other and the one who created us to play on this team.

We must always pray:

"Make me, Oh make me, Lord, more than I am
Make me a piece in Your master game plan
Free from the earthly tempestion below
I've got the will, Lord, if You got the toe."

I've got the will Lord, if you've got the toe! Do you have the will? Will you do what is required to better the team? Will you give of your time, your talents and your gifts to help the team? Will you be there when another team member falls, to pick them up, dust them off and love them without question? Will you be there when another team member succeeds, to rejoice with them and love them without question? Do you have the will? Because if you do, rest assured that our Lord has the toe.

Dropkick me Jesus, through the goalposts of life,
end over end neither left nor to right,
straight through the heart of them righteous uprights.
Dropkick me Jesus through the goalposts of life!

But know, my dear teammates, that you are not alone in this endeavor. No, there is a great cloud of witnesses that have gone on before you to make the way clear.

"Bring on the brothers, who've gone on before
And all of the sisters, who've knocked on your door
All the departed, dear, loved ones of mine
Stick 'em up front in the offensive line."

All those people who have gone before us, whether they are gone or whether they are still here with us are up there in our offensive line, blocking for us, helping us move down the field toward the goal line. I think of great offensive linemen like Troy Perry, who founded a denomination that has helped everyone in this room, and hundreds of thousands of others around the world. I think of John J. McNeill who wrote the groundbreaking book "The Church and the Homosexual" in 1976. I think of great blockers like Virginia Ramey Mollenkott who back in 1978 helped write a book called "Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?" that expanded the gay Christian movement. I think of Bishop John Shelby Spong who has fought for gays and lesbians in the Episcopalian church and society at large. Our offensive line is strong and full of all the brothers and sisters who have gone before us and many who still fight for us.

These are the members of our larger team - a team that continues to grow each day with new members who need our love, our support and our wisdom. We should never believe that we can go it alone. We should never think that we're the superstar who can do it all without the team. We should never think that we're the worst player on the field and that the team would be better off without us. No, we are all valuable members of the same team - a team assembled by God to bring unconditional love, grace, mercy, justice and peace to a hurting and dying world.

As we head back into the second quarter, you have a choice to make - do you want to be part of this team? Are you ready to put your heart and soul into this team? Are you willing to surrender your own will to God's will - trusting in the Lord's toe to dropkick you through the goalposts of life, end over end neither left nor to right but straight through the heart of them righteous uprights?

Let me hear you say it now - do you want to be a part of this team?

Do you know that you are a valuable part of this team?

Do you surrender your will to God's will?

Do you trust that the Lord has the toe?

Then say it with me like you mean it:

Dropkick me Jesus through the goalposts of life
End over end neither left nor to right
Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights
Dropkick me Jesus through the goalposts of life!

Amen!


Candace Chellew-Hodge is a recovering Southern Baptist and founder/editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for GLBT Christians. She is an ordained minister and holds a master's in theological studies from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. She currently serves as assistant pastor at MCC Columbia. She is also a spiritual director, trained through the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She has worked for the past two decades in journalism and public relations. She can be reached at editor@whosoever.org.

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