Pulling Together

Pulling Together

• Please join us in remembering Bob Humphrey this Saturday at 2:00. These are the moments when we stand by each other and bear witness to the love and sustaining grace of Jesus Christ. These moments count. He makes much more of us together than we could ever make of ourselves alone… keep reading.

• Some of the most powerful reflections I’ve ever read on what it means to be the body of Christ were passages in Daniel Brown’s The Boys in the Boat. His grasp of the power of humility, and Paul’s ethic of counting others better than ourselves (Php 2:3), is wonderful and at times transcendent. This first quote is Brown’s explanation of how the eight rowers in a particular UW shell were becoming a powerhouse.
    “There was a straightforward reason for what was happening. The boys in the Clipper had been winnowed down by punishing competition, and in the winnowing a kind of common character had issued forth: they were all skilled, they were all tough, they were all fiercely determined, but they were also all good-hearted. Every one of them had come from humble origins or been humbled by the ravages of the hard times in which they had grown up. Each in his own way, they had all learned that nothing could be taken for granted in life, that for all their strength and good looks and youth, forces were at work in the world that were greater than they. The challenges they had faced together had taught them humility—the need to subsume their individual egos for the sake of the boat as a whole—and humility was the common gateway through which they were able now to come together and begin to do what they had not been able to do before.”

• And this one on forging a new identity:
    “And yet, at the same time—and this is key—no other sport demands and rewards the complete abandonment of the self the way that rowing does. Great crews may have men or women of exceptional talent or strength; they may have outstanding coxswains or stroke oars or bowmen; but they have no stars. The team effort—the perfectly synchronized flow of muscle, oars, boat, and water; the single, whole, unified, and beautiful symphony that a crew in motion becomes—is all that matters. Not the individual, not the self.”

• Then this, which speaks such a different ethic than the athlete of our day who crosses the line and says into the microphone, “I just believed in myself.”
    “All along Joe Rantz had figured that he was the weak link in the crew. He’d been added to the boat last, he’d often struggled to master the technical side of the sport, and he still tended to row erratically. But what Joe didn’t yet know—what he wouldn’t, in fact, fully realize until much later, when he and the other boys were becoming old men—was that every boy in the boat felt exactly the same that summer. Every one of them believed he was simply lucky to be rowing in the boat, that he didn’t really measure up to the obvious greatness of the other boys, and that he might fail the others at any moment.”

• This was the common character of the men who won the Gold Medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, in front of Adolf Hitler, the “master race” of German citizenry, and the watching world. We, too, are before a watching world, shining as lights in the darkness. Let’s pray our own character stands the test of time.

– Pastor Eric