The old “Statue of Liberty play” was a big favorite in middle school.
The Trick Play: The quarterback takes the snap, drops back, and then, while faking a throw to one side of the field (his arm raised like Lady Liberty’s torch-bearing limb), tucks the ball behind his back with his other hand. A runner sweeps in, snatches the ball off the QB’s hip and bolts around the line while the defense reacts to the fake pass on the opposite side. TOUCHDOWN!!
I know that play well because I ran it many times. It was unexpected and successful the first time, but by the 5th time the novelty had worn off and everyone knew what was happening.
I remember my middle school coach, Charlie McFall, telling us that trick plays are not how you win games. “Boys, you win games by blocking and tackling!”
There is a sermon there! Coach McFall was basically telling a bunch of middle school boys that trick plays like the Statue of Liberty play or the “Flea Flicker” are novelties . . . that tricks are a waste of time. He exhorted us to get back to the basics. Blocking and tackling, X’s and O’s.
You think that might apply to our relationship with Christ? Too often my heart is drawn to the novel and exciting. Drawn to something NEW. But the truth is my heart can be a deceiver (Jeremiah 17:9) and a cruel taskmasker. What my spirit needs are the basics. The tried and true. It is the height of arrogance to think that a hipster pastor in 2020 can create better spiritual growth practices and disciplines than what the Church has used for 2000 years.
We don’t need a dark room, loud music, strobe lights, fog machine and skinny jeans while we sip our lattes and watch canvas painters. We do not need cleverness. What we most need is Word and Sacrament. The reading of God’s Word, the plain teaching of God’s Word, Holy Communion, Christian fellowship and the prayers. (Acts 2:42-46)
For almost 30 years, Miss Annette and I have read The One Year Bible. Some years we read the ESV, other years the NIV, and a few times we read the New Living Translation. The purpose of having The One Year Bible is to expose ourselves to the entire Bible in one year and to read Psalms and Proverbs through three times. The beauty of The One Year Bible is the simplicity of it. You read one OT lesson, a Psalm, a New Testament reading and a Proverb. The readings are sequential. And the thing I love is if you miss a day, no harm no foul, you pick up with whatever day it is. Frankly, somedays the OT reading is tough sledding (the Allotment to the tribes, the silver bowls and silver chalices, the begats, the Levitical laws about mold and mildew, etc.). No problem. Read those quickly and spend the bulk of your time in the other three lessons. But eventually what you will find is that many of those dry sections point to Christ and actually are helpful once you have more understanding.
On Sunday mornings we read from the lectionary or set readings that coincide with the Season we are in (Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Ordinary Time, Advent, etc.).
I invite you to join me and commit or recommit to the joy of daily bible reading using the simple tool of The One Year Bible. You can order it in ESV here and in NLT here. Personally, I prefer the hardback version, but the softcover is half the price. You can even get used copies for about $6.
One other resource I have for you is a book by my friend Winfield Bevins. Winfield came late to the Anglican world. He is a bible believing, low church man who grew up in the non-denom world, spent college years in charismatic circles and eventually found a spiritual home in the Anglican Church. Winfield is professor of church planting at Asbury Seminary and the kind of guy you want to have a coffee with. Anyway, his book SIMPLY ANGLICAN is a phenomenal read and will help you understand the treasures we have in Anglican worship and life but may not even realize that we have. You know the book has to be great when both those inside and outside our “denomination” are recommending it.
Here is a link to get yourself a copy. If you buy it, read it all the way through and don’t think it was worth your time, I will buy it back from you. What a deal! Simply Anglican helps us understand the healthy basics of following Jesus in the Anglican Way.
Our souls are weary of novelty. Deep calls to deep . . . no Statue of Liberty novelties.
(I’m now in quarantine awaiting a total hip replacement on Monday, so pray for a good outcome and for my wife who has to be my nurse!)