Inactives and the Bandwagon

Rev. Rich Heinz

I admit it. I was born into a Cubs family. At least four generations of them. My great-grandfather was eight-years-old when they won their last World Series. And while my sister is a diehard Cubs fan, my affiliation has been looser. They are "my" team, but I can't quote you statistics, and many years I would be hard pressed to tell you very many names of players. I attend about a game a year, and enjoy the atmosphere, but don't often have the game on TV or radio. I guess I'm kind of a "Chreaster" baseball fan; fairly inactive.

This week my brother-in-law, a fervent Cardinals fan, commented on one of my Facebook posts:=, "#Bandwagon." He's not really heard me talk baseball, and felt I was just riding the wave of trendy Cubs posts. Ouch! Am I?

It got me thinking, and returning to that "Chreaster" comment. Sometimes we are quick to feel a little Pharisaical and judge our brothers and sisters who come out of the woodwork for Christmas Eve "Midnight Mass," candles in hand as we softly sing "Silent Night," and those who come out of nowhere to fill the church on Easter morning, with resounding Alleluias. We look down on them, as if we have a greater right to be there, receiving the Gifts, since we are there every Sunday! Aren't they ashamed to only be in Church twice a year?! How dare she approach the altar?! Was he even listening to Pastor's sermon?! The only reason that family shows up on December 24th, is they hopped on the Christmas #bandwagon!

My friends, you and I have a lot of repenting to do! Not one of us deserves the forgiveness issuing from the manger and unwrapped from swaddling clothes on the altar. Nor are you and I more worthy than anyone to receive the proclamation of the Resurrection Gospel from the empty tomb of the pulpit! So what if someone else is simply #bandwagon and showing up then? The Holy Spirit is still "call[ing] by the Gospel, enlighten[ing] with His gifts, sanctif[ying] and [keeping] in the true faith." Sin and grace. Law and Gospel. Repentance and absolution. The Lord is working on these people, just as He is working on you, delivering Christ in His Holy Gifts to you.

Don't sit and judge the #bandwagon Christians as they show up for these occasional services. Give thanks to God that he has brought them there, and is pouring out His means of grace. Don't think that anyone is favored by God for being in the Divine Service more often than others. The #bandwagon Christian may need to repent of staying away from Word and Sacrament for too long, but the every Sunday Christian may need to repent of feelings of condescension and superiority.

Instead of joining the ranks of Pharisees in personally judging them, pray for them. Intercede, asking the Lord to renew them in repentance and forgiveness. Ask Him to gather them into His Divine Services on a regular basis, that they may be forgiven and nourished to life everlasting. Ask Him to use you as one who encourages and welcomes them.

How will you do at that? You will fail. Every day. Of course, that doesn't give you an excuse to stop living out your faith. Yet our dear Savior is reaching out to you, whether failing in living out your active faith, or being your #bandwagon self, forgiving and nourishing you with those same gifts. He delivers forgiveness, life, and salvation to you. He will one day welcome you onto the biggest undeserved #bandwagon of the Resurrection to Life Everlasting!

Oh, yeah. And whether you are a "diehard" or a "#bandwagon" fan, or anywhere in between, you can still rejoice with these teams in their earthly gifts, and even more so in His greater Gifts!

Rev. Rich Heinz is pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church & School in Chicago, IL - about five miles from Wrigley Field. He also serves as Worship Coordinator for Higher Things Conferences. Pastor Heinz also knows his brother-in-law was giving some good-natured ribbing.

Created: October 21st, 2015