JJ Baskin, whom I only know virtually, challenged some folks to work this ESPN story into a sermon. I didn't look at the story until this AM but after reading it felt moved to reflect a little bit on the impact of such an act of compassion, hope and challenge. As I read this story about a school's coach thinking more about the emotional and spiritual well-being of the other team, I was moved. I can't imagine what this would have been like in such a football state such as Texas, but I imagine the gesture was that much more powerful. Basically, this was a game between Grapevine Faith and Gainesville State School: Faith, a seemingly well-off school and, Gainesville, a school from a local youth correctional facility. [READ FULL STORY]
something kind for the Gainesville team. Faith had never played
Gainesville, but he already knew the score. After all, Faith was 7-2
going into the game, Gainesville 0-8 with 2 TDs all year. Faith has 70
kids, 11 coaches, the latest equipment and involved parents.
Gainesville has a lot of kids with convictions for drugs, assault and
robbery—many of whose families had disowned them—wearing seven-year-old
shoulder pads and ancient helmets.
So Hogan had this idea. What
if half of our fans—for one night only—cheered for the other team? He
sent out an email asking the Faithful to do just that. "Here's the
message I want you to send:" Hogan wrote. "You are just as valuable as
any other person on planet Earth."
I can't imagine the seeds that were planted in so many hearts that day and beyond. Sure, some will go back to their day-to-day realities and continue on as if it ever happened, but I can't help but to believe that there will be moments, small for some and huge for others, where one human will see, treat and engage with another with a new set of eyes. Where there was fear and unknowing, surely now there is hope and knowledge.
After the game, both teams gathered in the middle of the field to pray
and that's when Isaiah surprised everybody by asking to lead. "We had
no idea what the kid was going to say," remembers Coach Hogan. But
Isaiah said this: "Lord, I don't know how this happened, so I don't
know how to say thank You, but I never would've known there was so many
people in the world that cared about us."
In a world that so often discounts small gestures from unknown places, this is just one example of how we all need and are able to live this grace that we have been given. With gratitude we are moved and compelled to participate in this wondrous and often upside-down journey that God as called us to and in amazing moments we are allowed to be part of these glimpses of God in the world.
Thanks be to God.