Reflections by Jeremy Alger

I am writing this on Thursday (March 18th) so what has happened in the days before you read this in the March Madness College Basketball Tournament is not known to me as I write. But there is some news going into the tournament that I found worthy of my column this week.
In my pastoral career (I was a Youth Pastor and Worship Leader before I came to New Cumberland) I have often lamented the way that people disregard the church in favor of sports. I decided long before I got here that on my second Sunday I would preach about the importance of teaching your kids to go to church rather than play sports on Sundays.
I still believe that church is more important than whatever sports activity your little slugger is a part of. And raising them to value the practice of corporate worship is more valuable than even a college scholarship!
The news that got my attention seems to agree with me. The Men’s Basketball Team from Brigham Young University which is a private university sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was invited to take part in the NCAA Tournament.
The BYU team has a rule, based on the laws of their college which are directed by the faith of the church that sponsors them that prohibits their team from playing any games on Sundays. The tournament schedule contains multiple Sunday games. BYU (if they won their first two games) would be scheduled to play on Sunday.
This is the scenario that every Christian parent of an athlete imagines. This is the time when their faith is in the way of a national championship and fame and glory. This is the time that their son would miss the chance to be seen by millions of people and perhaps be drafted into the NBA to make millions of dollars. This is where the rubber meets the road for what they say they believe and how they live.
And here is the surprising part of this story; BYU reached out to the NCAA to explain that they would not play a game on Sunday. And the NCAA agreed, if BYU wins their first two games, half of the scheduled games in this billion dollar tournament would be switched to accommodate this one school who stood up for their beliefs.
This should serve as fuel for the fire of your faith! This should embolden you to do the right thing, to stand up for the standard that God has set. This should be the rallying cry to the millions of people professing the name of Jesus in America who cower in fear when circumstances call them to make a choice between the crowd and the cross.
God hasn’t called us to a life that will be easy and without any conflict or persecution. Scripture is clear in saying the exact opposite. There will be difficulty. If BYU had been kicked out of the tournament and ridiculed nationally it would have been no surprise. And my gut tells me that BYU would not have regretted their decision if those things had happened.
We are living in a time when we will be called to stand up or fade away and I believe that there are people in the world ready to see and hear the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ lived out faithfully by believers like you and me.
Jeremy Alger is the pastor of the New Cumberland Church of the Nazarene. They meet in person and online every Sunday. For more information please visit