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Olé, olé, olé for Jesus!

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16 33 (KJV)

Our home in Topeka was right behind the practice fields for one of the large high schools, and on the other side was the stadium… the place where on Friday nights large crowds would gather for the ritualistic celebration of High School Football.

We attended a few games, but not many. More often we would listen to the game from our back deck, knowing when the home team had done something well by the loud roar of the crowd and the tinny sound of the announcer over the public address system. All in all, found memories.

These memories were rekindled Sunday as I was on a morning walk in San Cristobal de la Chiapas, Mexico where I was for a time of intensive study. My plans for Sunday worship had changed, so I took a walk both for exercise and time alone with God. As part of the walk I climbed the stairs up the hill… small mountain… upon which was built the Templo de San Cristobal. I have walked up the 240+ steps at other times, but on this Sunday morning it was particularly enjoyable.

The top of the mountain/hill provides a nice view of the city that surrounds it, the downtown and the suburbs. I walked around to the back of the church and was wandering down a wooded walkway when I heard a familiar sound…. A loud, spontaneous, in unison cheer and the beating drums of celebration… just like those Friday nights of long ago, but with a Latin flavor! I walked further down the hill and I could see the futból field in the distance. I think it was the local sports club, and the crowd was cheering their team on to victory. Although it was quite a distance, because I was a thousand feet above them and the rainy weather, I could hear what was going on quite well even though it was difficult to clearly see the action.

I’ve often said that if future archeologists where to dig up the remains of a modern city some 2000 years from now, they would speculate about the “religions” that caused these great sports arenas to be built. It doesn’t matter the cult: futból, football, baseball, hockey, basketball and even rodeo! And religions they are, for they impact our moods and our thoughts for days on end. Think of what it’s like around Denver the first few days after a Broncos loss. Too many of us, put our heart and soul into our favorite sport… although I want to believe most of us keep it in proper perspective.

But if a good game can lift our mood and help our attitude, shouldn’t Christ’s victory over the world…. Christ’s victory over the grave lift our spirits and drive our optimism even more? Shouldn’t the knowledge that He has already won the victory out-weigh the pessimism and despair of the minor setbacks, trials and tribulations we face in this world today?

That’s basically the argument Jesus was making to the disciples when He addressed them following the Last Supper. He spoke plainly to them about what lay ahead, His passion, death and physical resurrection! “I have already won the Victory and after this my time on earth will be over and I leave it to you to celebrate that Victory here on earth,” He said (in effect, SVO transliteration you know!). Further He said that to help celebrate and proclaim that victory, He would send us an Advocate, the Holy Spirit. All of this so that we can “Be of good cheer!”

In this age of multiple shootings and arguments about how to stop them, in an age of ongoing arguments and discussions about core values of all types from human sexuality to sanctity of human life to the stewardship of our earth… it is easy to become discouraged, depressed and hopeless. But Christ’s message to us is to remember that He has already won the victory! Furthermore, Christ’s gift to us is His Spirit coming and dwelling within us so that we might truly be a light in this time of darkness.

So, “hurray for Jesus” or in other words: “Olé!”

Prayer: Lord, send your Spirit into my life, into the lives of my brothers and sisters in you, that we might be a light during this dark time, that we might offer warmth in the chill of all that surrounds us and that we might be instruments of your Hope, Peace and Joy. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Steve Van Ostran

Executive Minister


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