This Sunday is August 1. That means the first day of school is right around the corner. It also means we are right in the middle of the Summer Olympics! If your home is anything like mine, you’ve probably spent some time watching swimming, diving, and gymnastics over the past few days. USA … USA … USA. To make it even more fun, my son has learned to play the national anthem (quite well I might add) on the piano. It is very patriotic around the Robinson house these days.
Every time I watch the Olympics, I am reminded of a number of moments from previous Olympic years. From Mary Lou Reton in ’84 to Greg Louganis in the late 80’s/early ‘90s to the Dream Team of ’92, I have a lot of gold medal memories from my youth. Movies, however, have helped me celebrate other Olympic moments I was too young to fully appreciate at the time.
Take the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” in Lake Placid. I was alive at that moment, but not really watching hockey, so I missed this drama in real time. Thankfully Disney revived it through the movie “Miracle” starring Kurt Russell. I love this movie. There is a particularly powerful scene in that movie that I was thinking about the other day. The U.S. Hockey team was made up of young amateur players from a variety of rival colleges (some from Minnesota, others from Boston, etc.) They were having a hard time gelling as a team, and the lack of chemistry was showing on the ice. After one particularly poor performance in an exhibition game, Coach Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell in the movie) had his players return to the ice for an exhausting session of conditioning. Periodically throughout their exercises, he would call on a player and ask them what team they played for. Player after player would say their name and then their college. Eventually, with his team nearing full physical collapse from fatigue, their captain finally spoke up and shouted out his name: “Mike Eruzione from Winthrop, Massachusetts.” Brooks then asked his captain, “And who do you play for?” Instead of saying his college, Eruzione says proudly, “The United States of America.”
And Brooks had proven his point. The name on the front of the jersey is way more important than the name on the back.
I share this Olympic memory today (channeling my inner “Mike Tirico”) in order to make an important point. “Out there” there are many things that can divide a team. Our names are different, and they simply remind us that WE are different. As long as we focus on our differences, we have no hope at unity. Any cursory journey through 2020-21 should remind us of this fact.
However, teams of different people form because something greater unites them. Athletic teams unite around a city, a town, a nation, and a common cause. This “name on the front” takes different people and unites them in mission together. And this principle is not just applicable in sports. It applies in our churches as well.
Some people look at a church and assume that everyone in that church is the same. As someone who has served as a pastor for 25 years, I can honestly tell you that this is not true! There are many different “names” on the BACK of our “jerseys.” Different ideas, different backgrounds, different ethnicities, different genders, different gifts, different socio-economic status … the list goes on and on. Churches are not made up of people who are all the same. However, true members of THE CHURCH all have the same name on the FRONT of our “jersey” (and it is WAY MORE IMPORTANT than the name on the back). JESUS is the name front and center in the church. He is who unites us into “one new man” as Ephesians 2:15 states, regardless of our backgrounds.
As people come to faith in Christ, they don’t really get a jersey (that would be cool though, don’t you think?) Instead, they get something even better. They become identified with Jesus Christ, and we celebrate HIS NAME on the front of our lives through water baptism. As Ephesians 4:5 states, in Him we have “ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM.”
Join us this Sunday as we worship Jesus and celebrate with 11 of our new “teammates” as they profess faith in Christ through water baptism. This baptism reminds us of our oneness together. In a divided world, let’s come together as a church family to remember this great truth together of where our unity lies!
This week we will have two worship services (9:45 and 11:00) at Wildwood Community Church, and we hope you and your family can join us. Remember, on baptism Sundays we do not offer regular elementary, student, college, or adult classes (only early childhood is operating). The rest of us will be uniting together in one of our two services. Join us as we celebrate THESE BAPTISMS:
- Wristen Arnold
- Anna Ofthsun
- Eleanor Stauss
- Mendy Dixon
- Kason Hughes
- Melanie McCollum
- Carson Rehkop
- Emily Rehkop
- Henry Talkington
- Sam Weddle
- Zoe Sheriff
See you Sunday! And make note of our new worship service times (9:45 and 11:00).