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Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany - February 12, 2023

Welcome to Super Bowl Sunday! I know the church has long been threatened by football, with the congregations’ eyes on their watches as services run late and the kickoff comes near. Have no worries about the length of my sermon. The big game is this evening, so you will have plenty of time after I finish.

Even if you are not a football fan, you can’t escape the significance of the Super Bowl. The media talks about the match non-stop. There are two great teams, even if you don’t root for either of them. It is the first Super Bowl with two starting African American quarterbacks, a landmark moment. Also for the first time, two brothers are playing in the game, one on each team, their mother wearing a jacket that is half Kansas City Chiefs and half Philadelphia Eagles.

The journey to the Super Bowl demands everything from the players, the coaches, the staff, each team’s whole organization. It probably demanded all from the parents of those two brothers. To compete in the 60 minutes of game time, each player has devoted years of preparation. Think of the sacrifices made, holidays and weekends lost, the inevitable injuries and rehabs, and the strains on friendship and family to pursue the dream of a Super Bowl ring. I suspect if you asked the players and coaches this morning whether their journeys were worth it, they would say yes.

While we may not be able to relate to the journey of a professional football player or coach, I’d wager most or all of us have devoted ourselves to a great goal or ambition at some point. Some goals may have been sports-related: making a team or winning a competition. Some may have related to exercise, but not to be competitive with anyone other than yourself, such as running a marathon or half-marathon for the first time. Some may have been cerebral rather than physical: making an academic team, acing or just passing a test, getting into a school, qualifying for a career or specialization. In each case, we went “all-in,” devoting that extra measure of dedication in an attempt to reach that milestone. Sometimes we made it, sometimes we came up short.

Win or lose, these events change our lives. For our character, for the person we became, the efforts we made were more telling than whether circumstances enabled us to achieve a particular goal. I am reminded of Teddy Roosevelt’s speech at the