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March 11th, 2018

Sermon: The Rainbow Man and John 3:16

Sermon preached at Meade Memorial Episcopal Church in Alexandria, VA on March 11, 2018.
4th Sunday in Lent, Year B (RCL): Numbers 21:4-9; Ps 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21

May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of all our hearts,
be always acceptable, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

I take as my text this morning those assuring words from today’s Gospel:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
Every time I hear these words, I cannot help but think of “The Rainbow Man.”
(Cue the wig)

Perhaps you remember him. If you are a fan of professional sports (and maybe even if you aren’t) and watched any major sporting event broadcast on TV between the late 1970s-1980s: whether be it football’s Super Bowl, or baseball’s World Series, or the NBA’s Championship Finals, you saw this guy. You saw him A LOT. He was America’s most celebrated fan. His name is Rollen Stewart.

Rollen Stewart started out as a wig-wearing self-promoter who showed up at almost every major athletic event worldwide and always managed to plant himself smack-dab in front of a TV camera. Known as “the Rainbow Man” for the multicolored wig he wore, he was also called “Rock 'n' Rollen” for the party vibe he that exuded. Stewart would drive miles and miles to attend big events. He often got more TV face time than most network announcers. He found fame, as he intended, simply by showing up.

For the first few years, he just danced in the stands. After the 1980 Super Bowl, he was up late in his hotel room and saw a televangelist preaching about the end of the world. Stewart experienced some sort of dramatic conversion and, then, decided his Rainbow Man character would convince the world to believe in Jesus. Sports arenas were his church and TV his pulpit, with the Word as a sign that said, ‘John 3:16.’

(Cue the sign!) Do you remember him now?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

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