As I write this article this morning, I am still in the midst of processing the news of the day within the world of sports. Roger Federer is retiring from tennis. After twenty-four years, over 1,500 matches (with an official win/loss record of 1,251-275, as of today), and twenty Grand Slam titles, Federer is walking away from the game. Federer was a game-changer, literally innovating new strategies, shots, and ideas on the court. He was known for being a wizard on the court, able to hit shots that defied the laws of both physics and geometry. He is widely considered to be the greatest tennis player of all time, aka the GOAT, and I would agree with that. And he’s retiring.
Now, that means that the next few days will be filled with reflections of Federer’s career on sports chan-nels. And, more likely than not, his legacy will be talked about during all four Grand Slam tournaments next year, particularly at Wimbledon where Federer was especially dominant. You’ll hear folks have the GOAT conversation over and over. But then you’ll probably also hear folks ask some form of this question, “What is tennis going to do without Roger Federer?” or “What is the future of the sport, now that Federer won’t be here?” Some folks will say, “It’ll be fine,” and they’ll point to all the young tennis players coming up in Federer’s wake. But others will wring their hands and argue that the future is scary and uncertain now that Roger won’t be competing.
I say all this because these conversations always happen whenever a major sport star retires (prepare for all them again on ESPN in a few years when Lebron James retires). And every so often, I hear these kinds of conversations within churches. “What is the church going to do now that (insert famous leader’s name here) is step-ping down?” Or, “What is the church going to do in the face of (insert new cultural trend or shift here)?” And I do understand the concern that undergirds these questions. But I am always supremely confident that the church will rise to the occasion. Why? Because while leadership may change, cultural shifts may occur, new technologies may change the way we interact with each other, God does not change. God remains faithful to us. And so I am convinced that if we will remain faithful to God, the church will be fine. We will find new ways to engage with people, new ways to spread the Good News, new ways to let folks know they are loved. All because God will continue to love us and care for us through it all.
Grace and peace,