Challenge Sunday

How about a little word trivia to get your day started?  (Cause I’m sure you woke up this morning worrying that you might not be getting your Recommended Daily Allowance.)

Have you ever heard someone say that they are going to “throw down the gauntlet?�  It’s an expression meaning “to issue a challenge.�  Do you know where it comes from?  According to my friends at Wikipedia, gauntlets are gloves that extend past the wrist and cover some or all of the forearm.  These days they are decorational rather functional.  But they were created to protect a person’s hand and arms during hand to hand combat.  They were constructed of various materials—leather, chain mail, or even armor.

A knight who wished to challenge someone to a duel would take one of his gauntlets and throw it to the ground before his opponent.  If his rival wished to accept the challenge, he would pick it up.

This is not to be confused with “running the gantlet/gauntlet.�  (The spellings are so prominently interchangeable, either is now acceptable.)  Running the gantlet refers to a form of execution practiced by various cultures throughout history, including the Roman legions and Iroquois Indians.  People armed with sticks and clubs form two lines facing each other.  The convicted person is then forced to walk the “alley� between the lines, receiving blows from those on either side.

Finally, there’s the expression “kid gloves.� Here it is in a sentence: “Due to his fragile state, we’re treating him with kid gloves.�  Kid gloves are ultra soft gloves made from lamb skin or the skin of a baby goat, or kid.  To treat someone with kid gloves is to go out of your way to be gentle with them.

So what does all of this have to do with today’s activities?  Today is Challenge Sunday, the day where we introduce our theme for the year in some detail.  One of our elders, Mike Roman, and I will be sharing our hopes for this year as it pertains to our theme: “Changing Lives Through Jesus.�

So here’s my promise to you: Today, Mike and I are going to throw down the gauntlet.  We are going to be challenging you in 2008 to allow your lives to be changed for the better by Jesus Christ.  This challenge is not to be taking lightly.  We will not be treating you with kid gloves.  At the same time, we have confidence in you.  What we’re asking is not impossible.  We are not asking you to run the gauntlet.  I hope you are as excited as I am about being transformed more into the type of person God is calling you to be.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take a nap.  All of those verbal gymnastics wore me out.