Like many of you, I spent February caught up in the excitement of the Winter Olympics. While the summer games is all about the marvels of what the human body can be pushed to do, the winter games is more about control – athletes that use their gifts and skills to control their movements on an uncontrollable surface. The immense amount of dedication and perseverance required of these athletes is always very humbling to witness.
I believe that Christians can learn a lot from the Olympic Games. I think that the spirit of unity and dedication permeates through the lives of those who are committed to serving Christ just as it does for those who train for a sporting event. We all seek a degree of control throughout our lives; but just as the athletes rely upon their muscle memory, developed over countless hours practicing and anticipating, we must realize that the things that we cannot control are in God’s hands.
As Methodists the gift that I see time and time again in my travels throughout the world is our capacity for the grace of God at work within each of us. As a global family we possess a moral empathy that is unrivaled. We use the grace of God to match our passion and capacity for caring with the needs of a fractured, bruised and broken world. Gifts are typically given to individuals to use, be it impeccable balance or a keen vision or any other attribute that the extraordinary athletes in Sochi displayed, but the gifts that I speak of – those belonging to our worldwide Family are given to build and strengthen community and to meet the needs of those around us –believers and nonbelievers alike.
Now that the games have ended, remember the athletes we saw before us; each one at the pinnacle of their own abilities, having honed their considerable gifts to become the best that they could possibly be. Use them as an example of how we live our lives. Our collective gifts can and will make this world a better place. As the Olympic village empties and the athletes go home, as the torch is extinguished remember that the flame of the Gospel continues burning, and there is still work to be done in our global village. Let us work towards making our world embody the spirit and ideals of the games and those of our lord Christ Jesus – a place where referees are out of place, and only the supreme judge of the universe speaks.
Blessings during this Lenten Season.
IVAN M. ABRAHAMS