“Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Saturday mornings in our family have become cheerleading days. My daughter cheers with other elementary children for the flag football team. Pulling into the school parking lot for the first game, we were met with field upon field of teams from all over the area. The sidelines were filled with parents and fans. Referees blew their whistles, and cheerleaders offered their shouts of encouragement. As a family with a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old, this is our first foray into the world of Saturday sporting events—and I know from others that this is just the beginning.
Our Saturdays had been reserved for family time—slow mornings with breakfast together. This is a new season for us, but one that lends itself well to sharing about our faith and God’s love with one another. Sitting in the grass with a field of children playing, cheering and learning together, I thought of a few ways we can incorporate faith into our Saturday mornings on the sidelines. Whether you find yourself coaching a team or sitting in the sun watching a game, I hope these reminders of connection with God help you through whatever season you’re experiencing.
Look up and give thanks: With outdoor sports especially, we get the chance to be immersed in God’s good creation. Take time to settle your feet on the ground, to feel the earth below you, and look up. Say a prayer of thanks for God’s gift of sun and light. Trust that you are part of this beautiful creation and that God calls you good.
There’s room for everyone: Not everyone likes sports or being on a team, but there are many ways to encourage others and to be part of a community. Look for the ways people are serving—the parents who bring food, the siblings who sit on the sidelines, and the coaches and referees who offer their time. Whether you’re on the sidelines or playing in the game, God invites everyone to share their gifts and use their resources to lift up others.
Prayer can happen anywhere, at any time: During your walk or drive to the game or practice, take time to lift up people who need prayers of healing or comfort. Pray for the people coming to the field, that all may experience joy and community. Look around at what needs are before you and say a prayer for God’s peace and presence.
This season may be full, but God’s fullness follows us wherever we go. May you take time this month and connect with your faith on the sidelines.
Even if you’re not personally involved in a sport or extracurricular activity, go as a family to a game. While you’re there, pray for the teams, coaches and families.
Visit your local park or stadium and take a prayer walk, lifting up all who will come to that place.
Reach out to your parks and recreation department or school sports association to see about donating food or snacks to one of the teams. If you know someone who is physically unable to participate in sports, see about bringing them to a game. Bring notes of encouragement and cheer on those involved.
We pray for coaches and referees and for those who share their time with our children.
We pray for the people on the sidelines who offer food, prayers and support.
We pray for grace in a new season and for hope for what is to come.
We give thanks for the movement of our bodies.
We give thanks for the gifts of play and learning to be on a team.
We give thanks for parks and recreation departments.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers. Amen.