So I watched the Dallas Mavericks win their first NBA title Sunday night, and it was fun to be rooting for the home team. I’ll confess Dallas is not my hometown, but we travel there often, and it’s in my home state of Texas, so I think that counts. And besides that, we were in Dallas just last weekend; it was great to see so many people wearing their blue Mavericks T-Shirts.
But I’ll admit I don’t qualify as a real fan. That’s why I didn’t buy a shirt when in Dallas. The only basketball I watched all year was the playoffs and I only watched then because one of our teams was in them. A part of me wished I were more of a sports fan, but I just don’t have the patience to sit through entire games night after night. Last summer I watched the baseball playoffs; again, it was because another hometown team, the Texas Rangers, was in the World Series. I didn’t watch a single baseball game during the regular season, or basketball game, either. I wonder if I should do better.
Part of the fun of jumping in and rooting for the home team is the chance to be one of us. I spend so much of my life inside my own head doing my own stuff all by myself, it’s fun to be one of us sometimes.
It’s one reason I try to run around White Rock Lake whenever in Dallas … even in the horrible June mid-afternoon heat. It’s a premier urban trail and a beautiful setting, and that’s reason enough to drive across town to run, but the deeper reason I squeeze it into my schedule is to hang out with everyone else. I’ve never run there when I didn’t see dozens of other runners and cyclists. And even though 99% of them are faster and leaner and more beautiful than me, and even though I’ll never meet any of them, and even though we never exchange more than a head nod when we pass by each other, I like being on the same trail. I like being where they are. I like being one of us.
Another example: Last Sunday our church held a combined morning worship service under a huge tent erected in the parking lot. Instead of splitting up for our regular three morning services we met together as one group under the tent. We called it Victory Sunday and it was part of the kick-off and ground-breaking for a significant construction project.
We celebrated Communion during the service, something we do not do every Sunday, which means I was on serving duty as a deacon. At least we didn’t have to wear our traditionally mandatory uniforms of coat-and-tie this time, a bow to the 90 F June heat. But we all sat together on the front row; actually, squozed together would be a better description than to say we were sitting. We were perched on tiny plastic chairs that were spaced for a young Brownie troop rather than a team of grown men. We got a lot of comments as the entire congregation passed in front of us to put pledge cards in the buckets - we must have looked funny sitting so close.
But the highlight of the morning for me was being one of us. As I watched the families file past and realized how many I knew personally, how many I had served with on committees, how many I had attended Sunday School class with, how many I had been influenced by and changed by and strengthened by, I was happy. And as I thought about the fine groups of men I was part of on the front row I forgot how crowded and uncomfortable we were and thought only about how fortunate I am to know them all.
I guess that’s what church means to me - being one of us. As individual members we’re are not alike at all - our stories are different, our families are different, our methods of experiencing God are different, our futures are different, our spiritual expectations are different, our rules of behavior are different, and on and on. But because we share the love of Christ, and we share the love of each other and the joy of serving together, we have more in common than we have different.
I should add that being one of us requires participation. You aren’t a real fan unless you watch lots of games and you aren’t a runner unless you run lots of miles. You have to participate. That’s why the author of Hebrews reminded us: “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NLT)
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
To learn about Berry’s books, “Running With God,” go to www.runningwithgodonline.com , or “Retreating With God,” go to www.retreatingwithgod.com ,… Follow Berry on Twitter at @berrysimpson … Contact Berry directly: firstname.lastname@example.org … To post a comment or subscribe to this free journal: www.journalentries.org