top of page

"The Apostles Get Their 12th Man" - Sermon for the 7th Sunday of Easter - May 16, 2021

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

I was having drinks with a friend last week when she said to me, “I just kind of do my own ‘Church' thing. I mean, what’s the point of being part of a Church if I can encounter God anywhere?”

It’s a good question. And I thought about it for a minute, and then answered with a college football analogy. There’s a first time for everything.

I attended college at Baylor in the late 90s - this is back when Baylor couldn’t have won a football game against the University of Phoenix online, so I don’t have any real or appreciable sense of “School Rivalry” about college teams.

To be honest, I only went to A football game or two every year, and usually one of those games would be the Tech game and one would be the A&M game, because I had close friends at both schools.

Since Baylor wasn’t exactly of a bastion of school spirit when I was there, I mostly experienced school spirit second hand based on hanging out with friends at other universities.

Now, I know that other schools have spirit too, but I’m just saying: my freshman year of college there was literally a maroon dye shortage in the United States of America because the Aggies decided to start a new tradition of having a “Maroon Out” game.

Texas A&M is often accused of being “cult like” because they have a whole slew of traditions and rituals.

My favorite of these rituals is the 12th man.

The 12th man thing goes like this. There was a bowl game in 1922. The Aggies were playing ostensibly the best team in the country and they were getting rocked on the field. Injured players being dragged off the field left and right. The coach began to worry that the team was going to have to forfeit because the bench was empty. Desperate, the coach, looked up into the stands and saw Gill. Gill was one of the guys who generally played basketball, but had practiced with the football team to stay in shape. The Coach calls for him, and says “Gill. Come down here. Put on this jersey and STAND THERE just in case.” So Gill put on the uniform and stood there for the rest of the game. The only player on the bench. The “12th man”. Just standing there at the ready to fill in wherever needed.

And if you’ve been to an A&M game, you know. Since that day just shy of 100 years ago, every A&M student who is physically able stands for the entire game. Often wearing the number 12 - They’re STILL just STANDING THERE at the ready, just in case they are needed.

Again, I went to Baylor, and blew off most of the spirt-stuff in favor of doing my own thing - studying in my favorite spot in the library, taking walks on the beautiful campus, playing disc golf in the park. So, if you ask me, how was your college experience I’ll say “Oh, it was okay. Good. Whatever."

Because really, just like you can encounter God anywhere, you can get an education anywhere.

But people who went to college and participated in the silly rituals and traditions and built community and solidarity with other students - if you ask them about their college experience, they usually don’t answer “it was okay.”

In fact, if you ask an Aggie, they probably have some elaborate ritual and yell for telling you how - whoop - very very great