Learning Lessons from the Champions

RedSoxWorldSeriesA dream became a reality late Wednesday night into Thursday morning.  The Boston Red Sox won the 2013 World Series and won the championship in Fenway Park, their home ballpark, for the first time in nearly 100 years.  Having spent last season in the cellar of baseball standings as one of the worst teams (and possibly worst managed team), they rose to the top.  On their way to the championship, they played the other team who shared the best record in baseball for the year.

This year felt different.  This year felt magical.  Of course, every Red Sox fan wanted to put 2012 behind them.  None of them wanted to remember how far they had fallen and even the record collapse that they had experienced in 2011.  They wanted 2013 to be different.  And different it was.

Back in April, the City of Boston was shaken up by the bombing during the Boston Marathon.  The city rallied together and was grateful that justice would come to the suspects of this horrific attack.  Everyone came together to proclaim that “We are Boston Strong.”  That theme resonated throughout the entire season.

John Farrell, in his first year managing the Red Sox, took the team all the way to the top.  He wasn’t a stranger to Boston, having served as their pitching coach under Terry Francona.  It probably helped that he had a relationship with many on the team, helping to solidify him into Red Sox hearts and folklore.

Back in 2004, the Red Sox “broke the curse” of not bringing home a championship in 86 years, and there was a similar air about the team.  They were known as the Band of Idiots.  Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon, and others rallied together to ask the question, “Why not us?”  What could stop them from going all the way?  The answer, it was soon to be revealed, was no one.

2013 has felt very similar to 2004…..but this year, it was accompanied by beards.  Fear the beards?  Yes, for they shall be champions.

But it wasn’t just beards that made this team different.  This team had “IT.”  This team has something that made them different.  They bonded together.  The whole was not equal to the sum of its parts, it was better.  When you put all of the pieces together, they rose to a level higher than they would have as individuals simply coming together.  There was unity.  There was camaraderie.  There was connection.  There was synergy.  This team seemed common, but what they did seemed uncommon.

Isn’t that the story of what God can do with us?  He can take people who seem common and pull them together to far exceed the sum of their parts.  When they submit themselves to him and to each other, they can rally together to accomplish great things.  Go back to the Book of Acts and read through the story of the church’s emergence as a force to be reckoned with.  You will see how God took individuals who were common and ordinary and how he transformed the world through extraordinary circumstances by combing their efforts and giving them power.

I love “zero to hero” stories.  I love stories of the underdog rising up to win.  I am an underdog.  I am common and ordinary, but I am not alone.  When we come together to put our collective gifts to work, the result of what we have exceeds the sum of our individual parts.  When we inject the power of the Holy Spirit into that, we become that much greater, not for ourselves or for our own sake, but for the sake of the Gospel and the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Maybe the Church needs to become a Band of Idiots.  Maybe we need to grow beards.  Whatever we do, we need to realize that we don’t do it on our own.  We need to realize that together, we are better.  We need to realize that God can take the broken and ordinary and restore them to make them extraordinary.  When we come together, we too, can be champions.

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