Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I have greatly enjoyed my alma mater’s return to the gridiron this year. Going into this Saturday’s Homecoming game against the Stetson Hatters, my Mercer Bears are 9-2 and Head Coach Bobby Lamb is a finalist for FCS national Coach of the Year. It’s been fun.

Did you know that Mercer was one of the teams that met in the first college football game played in the state of Georgia? It was in January of 1892 and their opponent was some school in Athens that has over the years admittedly been more identified with football than has Mercer. Mercer’s first football victory came in the fall of that same year when they defeated Georgia Tech 12-6, a feat we hope to repeat when Mercer opens at Tech in 2016.

The Bears held the Florida Gators scoreless each of the first five times they played; the Bears won the first four games by scores of 12-0, 6-0, 24-0, 13-0, with the squads playing to a scoreless tie in the fifth game. Granted, all of those games occurred before World War I, but Mercer still shut out Florida in five consecutive games. I'm pretty sure Steve Spurrier was the Gators' quarterback back then.

Mercer fielded a football team until 1941; the program was discontinued due to World War II and was revived to great anticipation and with much success this year.

Mercer football has had two advents—it arrived in 1892 and departed in 1941; it arrived again in 2013—and hopefully will never leave again. Of course, lots of important things went on at and through Mercer between 1941 and 2013; we didn’t sit around waiting for football to return—we kept busy doing what we were supposed to do to be a vital university. Perhaps there was always a lingering hope that football would return but once the decision to resurrect the program was made in 2010 preparations began in earnest. Mercer people did not sit around daydreaming about football’s return; they got to work making things ready for its return.

We of the Church are approaching our annual observance of Advent. During Advent we celebrate the first Advent of Jesus that occurred two millennia ago. We also anticipate his Second Advent that is yet to occur. But we also think about and recommit ourselves to living in ways that will reflect what he taught us in his first coming and that will prepare the way for his second coming.

The parallels I am drawing are inexact. When Mercer football was gone, it was gone, except for the memory of it. When Jesus ascended back to his Father, the Holy Spirit came to us and through the Spirit Jesus has remained present with us. Also, while some always hoped for a return of Mercer football, there was no guarantee that it would ever happen, but we have the sure hope that Jesus will return. And because we know that Jesus came, that Jesus continues with us, and that Jesus will come again, we want to take with joyful seriousness the opportunity we have to live in light of all of his Advents.

That, Charlie Brown, is what Advent is all about!

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