In deference to the recent Super Bowl and the election of NFL Films president Steve Sabol to the Football Hall of Fame, I offer you the striking story of spraining my ankle before Sunday’s 8 o’clock service.
As the Rev. Tim Schenck arose in the pre-dawn hours on the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, he was fully aware of his date with destiny. Regardless of the obstacles he would face that day, Father Tim knew what he had to do: preach the gospel and celebrate the holy mysteries. Upon waking he donned his battle gear — black suit, black shirt, and white collar.
After taking care of his wristless wife’s needs, he steeled himself for the battle with the forces of wickedness that awaited him. Armed with his sermon and steaming mug of coffee, Father Tim forged into the chilly air of early February. Early Winter moans…but it’s that February wind that rattles 42-year-old bones. Charging up the driveway through whipping wind en route to the massive stone church on the hill he was a man on a mission from God. But unbeknownst to Father Tim, danger lurked across the frozen tundra that was the St. John’s parking lot.
Emerging from the darkness a patch of black ice suddenly seized him and catapulted him to the asphalt. Writhing in pain, Father Tim looked deep within himself and, like a war-tested gladiator, hurled himself toward the large wooden front doors of the holy shrine.
Tossing aside the pain of a bad ankle sprain he marched down the empty corridor toward the sacristy. And then, fully vested in chasuble and stole and with a blood curdling rasp in his throat, dramatically declared the opening acclamation. In dogged pursuit of the pulpit, Father Tim hobbled up the steps to deliver a Lombardi-esque sermon; all-the-while grimacing under the weight of both expectations and searing pain.
The victory of the cross was not to be denied that day. And for Father Tim, humbled by human frailty but unwilling to surrender, the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany in Year A would be a day neither he nor the gathered faithful would soon forget.
Fade to black.