I’ve had an interesting experience these last few weeks following the Philadelphia Phillies journey to become World Champions of baseball. Being out of the country when the team I have grown up loving has a chance to change its mostly losing ways, has been a very different experience than if I was in the US. First of all, watching the games was an adventure. I had to find satellite TV for one. Fortunately my neighbor was away an allowed me to watch on his TV. What a blessing! Secondly was the time change. The first pitch of each game was at 2:37am local time. For the first few games I tuned in between 4-430am, about the 4th or 5th inning. For the clinching games(s) it called for a 2:30am wakeup. There were many days of staggering through life to be a part of this history making run.
As I watched literally what has been a once in a lifetime event for a Philly fan unfold, it felt a bit anti-climatic. There was no one to share it with! Baseball fans in South Africa number in the single digits. In a land of rugby balls and cricket wickets no one cares about 120 years of largely futile history as a Phillie fan. I found myself spending a great deal of time on Facebook to see what people were saying. I changed my “status message” all the time to communicate. I read virtually everything I could get on sites like philly.com, espn,com, and cbssportsline.com just to feel like I was a part of this championship run.
As it came down to the final outs of a victory, I celebrated alone at 4am. Yes, it was wonderful. I even can admit a tear or two in the eyes. Yet there were no high fives or cheers that could be shared. My team had won -that was fantastic. I have had “WE are the champions” running through my mind for days. I made sure someone got me the t-shirt. I encouraged people to go to the parade. I wanted them to celebrate where I could not.
In seeing this, I started realizing how true it is that we really are created for relationship. They often say that sport brings people together. How true! I imagine the water cooler talk in Philly the last few days was not about the economy or the election, but the Phillies. Philly fans would not be Philly fans if we could not share our negativity about our sports teams. We love to talk about it. Now, we love to celebrate together.
It reminded me of the verse in Hebrew that adonishes believers to “not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, all the more as we see the Day approaching” God is on to something. As much as sports bring people together, how much more should God and the church. We were created to celebrate together as well as to mourn together. We need the body of Christ in times of economic uncertainty. political unstability, as well as moments of personal triumph and crisis. To the Phillie fans, lets take the common bonds we feel and extend it to the body of Christ.
Oh, and by the way – WE are WORLD Champions!! I will soon have a t-shirt to prove it!