Eagles-themed sermon in Philly suburbs before NFC championship game: 'Jesus was an underdog'

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From a beach chair in the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field to pews in churches, Eagles fans spent Sunday morning praying for an Eagles victory against the Minnesota Vikings. JOSE F. MORENO/Staff Photographer

The Rev. Eugene Wilson delivered a message Sunday to inspire the Eagles faithful at St. Charles Borromeo in Bensalem: The Bible is filled with stories about the underdog.

Father Wilson, a diehard Birds fan, hung an Eagles scarf on the pulpit for the 8:30 a.m. Mass. The congregation was a sea of green: Eagles’ jerseys, hoodies and scarves. Students at the parish school donned Eagles attire Friday.

>> READ MORE: Follow along here for live coverage from the Eagles-Vikings game

Even Father Wilson wore a green vestment Sunday. “It all ties together,” he said.

Father Wilson delivered a similar message in his sermon at Mass on Saturday night and Sunday, preaching the story of Jesus, John the Baptist and Jonah, who was swallowed up and trapped inside a whale for three days for disobeying God.

“They were all underdogs. In the end they all won,” Wilson said. “Our Eagles are also underdogs.”

There was also an Eagles theme on display at St. Rose of Lima in Eddystone, where Deacon Anthony Dilenno donned a dog mask and a green vestment. A photo posted on Twitter by Kevin Acker with the heading “only in Philadelphia is this not a weird scene in church” went viral.

In South Jersey, the congregation at Bethel AME Church in Moorestown offered a special altar prayer for the Eagles. The sermon by the Rev. Stanley Hearst, the church’s pastor, was “The time is fulfilled.”

“Now it’s Eagle time,” said Hearst, a Philadelphia native and longtime fan. “I have been Eagle green all the days of my life.”

After the benediction, Hearst said he closed the service in his custom, by saying: “Have a good day.” For good measure, he added, “Go, Eagles.” The congregation clapped and cheered.

The organist then struck up an impromptu rendition of the Eagles fight song and church members belted out “Fly  Eagles Fly” and ended with “E-A-G-L-E-S!”

With Eagles fever at an all-time high, Father Wilson, from St. Charles Borromeo, said he wanted to use excitement about the game to make the sermon relevant to churchgoers and fans.

“Everybody knows about the game. To be at church and you can cite Scripture makes it real for people.”

Wilson’s prediction for the game: Eagles win, 24-17.

“That’s my prediction,” he said. “But I receive a lot of higher inspiration.”