10/06/2009 11:16:00 pm

On Preaching and Football

Posted by Tom French |

On Sunday I preached at my church for the first time. I had a good time.

The man with an eye patch who I once pondered if he was a pirate turned out to be a swashbuckling Baptist minister who interviewed me so that the congregation would know who I am. He didn't stab me with his cutlass, just jab me with some denominational proddings about my confirmation. I'm not sure my flaky Anglican affirmations of faith were deemed an adequate substitution for a hearty believer baptism. But he is a gracious man, and welcoming, so I was forced down no planks into the baptismal pool and was allowed to preach. I like him a lot.

The other week I introduced him to Gem and he said "Oh I could tell you a few stories about Tom", at which point Gem replied "I think I could tell a few of my own." I was most pleased that he would feel like he knows me well enough to tell stories about, despite the fact that before that we had shaken hands and said "G'day" only twice. I was also pretty sure that any stories Gem has about me would top his stories seeing as "He's said "G'day" on multiple occasions" isn't much of a story. He was probably just saying he could tell stories about me to affirm our congregational connection. I think that's pretty friendly.

I really hope he doesn't mind the pirate references. If he does next time I'll go the evil genius route.

The preach itself went well. I felt ok about it. It was good to be preaching again. I especially loved being able to preach to a group I know (at least know better than almost every other group I've preached to this year, the whole right hand side of the church I haven't really met). It's a real blessing getting preach to your home church. I really find it satisfying because you know where to pitch it. You don't find you're just fumbling around in the dark hoping your application is relevant. Still the topic I was preaching on (God's love and suffering) is a pretty universal one.

After church a guy patted me on bum to say "Good job". It was the first time preaching has got me congratulated like a footballer. It was like I'd just scored a try. I think that's the only time straight men are allowed pat other straight men on the bum. Still perhaps we should institute more bum pats for preachers to make preaching more manly. There could be a few blokey blokes standing on stage with the preacher and every time they make a good point the blokes could grunt and say "Good-one preach!" and pat the preacher on the bum. I think it'd make men feel like church is more like a sporting match and make them want to come more. Perhaps also if church had cheerleaders too.

Speaking of blokeiness, I got to watch the NRL Grand Final on Sunday too. I was pretty cut that I wasn't going get to watch it. The first year I wasn't at Black Stump and I wasn't employed by the church, and I was preaching and I was going to miss it.

But happily, it was organised that we'd all watch a taped version after church and none of us would know the score. And we could fast-forward the ads and the half-time jabber when everyone goes to the toilet.

It worked very well, and I was very happy to be watching. I was keen for the Eels to dominate because they are, I guess, my default favourite team after Norths folded. I also think Storm don't deserve to win because they're from Melbourne and people in Melbourne don't even care about the NRL. It's the worst kind of insult for Melbourne to think our game sucks and still beat us at it.

Alas, the Eels were rather disappointing. The Storm outclassed them with very methodical football. It wasn't showy, just precise and it got the job done. At least that's my analysis and I watch about three games a year, so I should know.

I was so sad for the Eels. I think I felt depressed for at least a minute twenty after the game ended. Then I went and did a wee.

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