Once again, your humble blogger is unafraid to take on the controversial issues of the day—including, this time, this Baptist pastor’s prayer before a recent NASCAR event.
I realize it’s not exactly the Book of Common Prayer, but I like it! First, he’s alluding to a popular movie that he and everyone in the crowd have seen and enjoyed. They clearly got the reference. (This should defend him from accusations that he has a big ego.) It’s O.K. to laugh, the prayer seems to suggest, because laughter, too—like all the other good things the prayer affirms—is a gift from God. He qualifies his words by saying, “You said, ‘In all things give thanks’…” Rev. Nelms shows the crowd that he believes it.
The prayer is a reminder that God is right there in the midst of something as seemingly trivial (to me) as a NASCAR race, which of course is true. That’s a good and helpful reminder—a pretty good sermon in itself. And it’s only about a minute long!
(By the way, there’s nothing inherently sacred about the word “Amen,” either. It’s a word of affirmation—”so be it.” In this context, even “boogity, boogity, boogity” can be heard as the same kind of affirmation.)
Years ago, I pastored a small church located in middle Georgia, right off of I-75. Once or twice a year, parishioners warned me, attendance would be down in worship because of “the races”—NASCAR events happening in either Daytona or Atlanta. Truthfully, I kind of resented it. I wanted to get on my high horse about people missing church for something silly like a race. “Where are their priorities?” I wondered… As if God were locked up inside the walls of church on Sunday morning!
I tend to like things that break down the artificial barrier between “the sacred” and “the secular,” including this prayer.