One of the things I’m enjoying at the moment is my rookie basketball season.
At the ripe old age of 37, it seemed ideal to begin a new sporting career, and basketball loomed as an opportunity thanks to the welcoming crew at the grandly named Uniting Church Launceston Allstars.
UCLA is a basketball club that’s part of Trinity Uniting Church in Launceston and plays in the northern Tasmania Baptist basketball league. How’s that for ecumenical! We field two mens and two women’s teams in the Saturday night competition that is decidedly competitive.
I’m enjoying the physical nature of training and playing, and the challenge of learning a new sport – even if half the time I commit a foul, I have no idea what rule I’ve broken!
Most of all though, I’m enjoying the team thing.
Team sports give us a great insight into the nature of community. A team at its best look out for each other, look for opportunities to bring complementary skills and gifts, and are more interested in achieving the team goal (in this case to win in fine style!) than the dreams of the individual.
I like that when we play well, I can celebrate with my team mates – even if I’ve not played so well. And I appreciate that we can support each other in the face of loss – even if I personally have had a ripper (which, if I’m frank, is not the normal situation!).
I enjoy the camaraderie of the team, and I enjoy the fact that my team mates trust me, depend on me to do my job well. Even as a newcomer to the sport, and the team, I sense this level of trust that says “I need you to do your job, so I can do mine”. I love the pats on the back and the high fives that come when I execute something well – that my team mates are delighted to see me do something well. And I love encouraging them, verbally and physically on a job well done, or a valiant attempt, or a near miss.
I like the fact that we have a coach who rides through all the emotions with us. He paces the sidelines, injecting his thoughts, providing the benefit of his experience, alternately consoling and inspiring us. I like that he is part of the team, part of our success and part of our failure, even though he’s not on court with us.
I like that in the minutes after the game we can sit and chat about life, and continue to encourage and affirm each other. That’s an aspect I hope will grow as I continue to get to know the guys and girls of UCLA.
The team thing is powerful. Encouraging. Inspiring. Rare.
I dream of a faith community that is like a highly functioning team. A faith community that values the skills and gifts each of its members bring. That depends on each other. That supports each other. That is verbal and vocal in its encouragement of success, or commitment, or bold attempts. I dream of a faith community that celebrates and commiserates together, each person owning the wins and losses that inevitably accompany any community.
And to be honest, I dream of a faith community that is focused on its task. Not on winning, like a sports team, but on participating actively, boldly, creatively and energetically in the mission of God. A community that is serious about loving, living, proclaiming, supporting, nurturing, worshiping, praying and more.
Bring it on.