(page updated 03/26/2021)
Interim Pastor John King
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West Grove Presbyterian Church
“Swimmers, Take Your Mark. Go!”
No one ever
noticed, but I retired from my competitive swimming career when I was 11 years
old. There was no banquet, no speeches,
no commemorative plaque or pin. I just
faded softly into the summer night. Actually,
it was just a summer swim team, the members of which were comprised of kids
from eight and under to eighteen years of age.
Many of them were quite good, a couple holding national records in their
event. My brother and I were a part of a medley relay team that was undefeated
for two summers. A big reason for that
success was the fact that the guy swimming butterfly was the coach’s son and he
went on to become an All American at N.C. State. Several years later, when I was working at
the same swim club, very few people even remembered that I once was a summer
swimmer. They all knew me as a football,
basketball and baseball player, the seasons for which sharply conflict with
swim team season.
It was ironic, therefore, that during the summers of my last two years of college, I was given the assignment of being the coach for that same summer swim team. I did fine with running practices. As long as the kids knew what they were doing, I could challenge and push them, make sure they were in shape, recognize who was proficient in each stroke, and organize the lineup of heats and events for the meets with other clubs. Since I had retired, however, at age 11, there were some important things about which I didn’t have a clue. Specifically, I had never learned how to do a flip turn, forward or backward! My sterling and brief career consisted of 25-meter sprints; no turns necessary. Desperately, I adapted and assigned some of the older kids who swam on school and AAU teams to teach these fundamentals. Some people thought I was being clever by responsibly delegating these tasks, but the kids knew better. I didn’t know what I was doing and we had some good laughs about it!
During the next week, pastors all over the world will be struggling to come up with something new and creative to preach to their congregations during this Holy Week. They often are given special assignments in addition to the Easter Sunday worship service. My friend, the apostle Peter, has even agreed to share a message at an Easter egg hunt! I served at one church where the pastor was assigned to prepare a message for the first three nights of the week, a meditation on Maundy Thursday and three brief meditations on Good Friday. If one does not have a grasp of the wonder and joy of this sacred week, it could leave us drowning in the waters of our baptism.
But we are not retired believers who walked away from our life in Christ before we even learned the basics. We do not desire to hear Jesus say to us as he said to those men from Emmaus, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26)
I would invite all to receive everything that this Holy Week uniquely offers you. Join with us on Zoom this Wednesday to hear the words from the cross. Bring your children to share in the joy and fun of the Easter Egg Hunt. And practice your flip turns, so you can be ready to shout, “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”
“Take your mark. Go!
The joy of the
living Christ be yours,