Sermon Illustrations

Holding Up the Bridge

By now you have probably noticed the construction of the new bridge spanning the gap between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze. Each week new additions to the construction have caught my eye as I’ve driven those three miles over the bay. Tug boats, barges, cranes, heavy equipment, lumber, steel, and a hive of people have been busily moving and giving shape to this new span of concrete. As I drove over today, what really got my attention was the powerful pounding of the supports that were being hammered into the silty bay’s bottom. Boom, phhhfft, clink, boom, phhhfft, clink, it goes and goes.

A bridge wouldn’t be much of anything, if it didn’t stand tall. You could lay hundreds of miles of concrete, but without a support system, it would crack under its own weight. In fact, it’s the supports that give the bridge it’s identity and ability to overcome their chief obstacles. Without the supports, a bridge is just an underwater road. When it is suspended, it takes on it’s true power and rank. We need bridges to stand tall, connecting two worlds, and overcoming obstacles.

A bridge can be supported from above and below. While our bridge will certainly have posts rising from the watery depths of the bay, I’m sure it will also have some support from above. There are arch type bridges and suspension bridges that each provide their support from above. The suspension bridge channels it’s work through the tall posts that stand as the tallest points of the structure, while the arch forces all the weight into the bases at each end of the bow. They are works of art and utilitarian. They each remind us that we need support and to be supportive.

There was a legendary conversation with the late composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein in which he declared that the most difficult instrument to play is the second fiddle. “If no one plays second fiddle, we have no harmony” he observed. Bernstein understood what the bridge is telling me; that we need to be the supports that empower the proverbial bridges of our world. Likewise, Paul encouraged the early church to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2)

The world would enjoy the benefit of more bridges if we could all be a little more supportive. It’s so easy to be against things, ideas, and people, but when we find our voice of support for things, ideas, and people we are so much more effective. I imagine a world where we stood up for people instead of tearing them down. I hope for a day when advocacy and encouragement overpower ostracism and fear. Some of us might be those supports that give strength from below, without ever being noticed or thanked. Others might be able to use their power and clout to give support from above. Either way we are called to be supportive.

This week, I invite you to consider what bridges in your life need your support. Is there a relationship that needs you to help span a gap of understanding? Is there a project at your work that will sink if you don’t hold up some more weight? Can you stand tall in a bay of ambiguity and hold the tension of being friends with two warring parties? What bridges of reconciliation need your voice to support from above? What gaps can you help overcome with your support from below? Take a lesson from our new 3 Mile Bridge. Find your place to dig in so you can stand tall. Support someone who needs a bridge in their life.

Love one. Love another.


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