A Shot Put Church
Churches have long used symbolsto express themselves and share a word about their congregation. The cross is an obvious choice. We add a flame in the United Methodist Church, symbolizing the Holy Spirit. Some churches use butterflies, waves, boats, and any number of graphic designs to transmit an expression of their faith and congregational "vibe."
I've begun to dream of a church made up of shot-putters and can see the image of a shotput as part of a new logo design.
Last week during the international track and field event, the Belgium national team lost both hurdlers due to injury. They learned that the team faced disqualification if they did not place a runner at the starting line in the 100-meter hurdles. When nobody else stepped up, Jolien Boukwmo raised her hand and said she would run the race. Jolien is a champion shot-putter. She has the strong, beautiful body of a shot-put and discus thrower. She readily admits that "I'm not made for hurdling."
Ms. Boukwmo ran the race that was before her. She moved carefully over each hurdle, finishing the 100-meter run in about 39 seconds compared to the winning time of just over 13 seconds. You might think that Julien would be embarrassed by her awkward effort. You would be wrong. Her face beamed with a huge smile throughout the warm-ups and the race.
Boukwmo chose to enter the race because her team needed her. She wasn't perfect for the role but she gave it her all. She was willing to take a risk, even if it meant coming in last because stepping up mattered. Belgium was awarded two points for her effort, not enough to avoid being demoted to Division 2. It was enough to remind all of us that showing up and stepping up matters.
Throughout my pastoral career, I've encountered people who think they could never be part of starting something new or supporting a ministry for various reasons. "I don't have the skills. I don't have the time. Someone else should do that, but not me." This story of the shot-putter turned hurdler for a day has made me wonder, "What if we became a church of shot-putters?" What if we didn't get so caught up on whether we were perfect for the task? What if we were more willing to try something new, even if it fails because we know we will have learned from the experiment? What if we recognized that our team/church needed someone to step up?
I can see it now; all of us are in our tracksuits and running shoes. All of us are ready to say, "Put me in, coach! Wherever I'm needed!'
Peace, Pastor/Coach Linda