A long time ago, much longer than I care to
admit, I played high school football.  I
was big and strong, but not very fast and not very good with my hand, so that
meant I was an offensive tackle. 
It’s not a position anyone gets
excited about, not even offensive tackles themselves. They never, or almost
never, win the Heisman Trophy, get endorsement deals from Nike, or have fan
clubs and internet sites created to track their careers.  Offensive tackles names are called only if
something goes wrong: if they get slapped with an illegal motion penalty or get
caught holding while trying to protect the quarterback who dropped-back to
pass.  The spotlight shines on the players
who handle the ball, not to the linemen. 
Let this jealous former
offensive tackle remind you of something, though: there wouldn’t be any star
halfbacks, if offensive tackles didn’t do their jobs.  Any running back with a thousand yard season
has some banged-up, bruised-up linemen to thank. 
But, it’s also true that even
the best tackle can only hold a block for so long, and he needs a fast back to
hit the hole while it is open.  So, as
hard as it is for me to admit it, the guys dancing in the end zone, doing
Gatorade commercials, and going to Disneyworld after the Super Bowl do matter.
Individual football players
matter.  Each one needs to play his
position as well as he can. Every person on the team counts.  And, no quarterback or running back can win
games by himself, no matter how dazzlingly talented.  Winning requires a team. 
It’s true in football.  It’s true in life.  We can’t live very well or very long on our
own and alone.  We need community.  We all need encouragement, wisdom, guidance,
help, and support we can’t provide for ourselves. We need neighbors, friends, colleagues,
and the members of our faith-communities. 
They need us, too. 
Followers of Jesus need the church, because,
at its best (it isn’t always), the church keeps telling us the good news, which
is that God loves as much as Jesus said and showed.  Annie Dillard once said:

I have no problem with miracles.  I’m a long way from agnosticism, and no
longer even remember how a lot of things that used to be problems for me
were.  But that isn’t the question I
struggle with.  To me, the real question
is, How in the world can we remember
life’s crushing busyness, the church helps us remember God and the reality of
God’s love.  In moments of painful shame
and guilt, the church recalls for us that judgment is not God’s last word, but
that mercy is.  In seasons of despair,
when we can’t see beyond the difficulties we face, the church points us toward
the hope that is always rushing toward us from an Easter-future. 

We’re not meant to live alone and on our own, and we
don’t have to do so.