A Magical Community

http://www.dallasnews.com/incoming/20121003-rangers002.jpg.ece/BINARY/w620x413/Rangers002.JPGA lot of my friends congratulated me earlier this month on the Oakland A's miraculously making the playoffs, and then offered condolences when the team was bounced by the Detroit Tigers in the first round.  The exhilaration from the first more than offset the sadness from the second, since I didn't expect the team to be good until 2014 or later, so this magical run was more than could be expected and I really was "just happy to be here." 

I couldn't follow the team much - not that it was easy, what with minimal coverage on the East Coast and a roster full of no-names - but it wasn't hard to be captivated by one of the best stories in all of baseball.  Here was a team with the second-lowest payroll in the league, an all-rookie starting rotation, one of their best relievers being a converted infielder, and one of their best starters suspended for the season for PEDs.  Throw in a scary line drive to the head of popular starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy, the gut-wrenching loss of Pat Neshek's one-day-old baby boy, and an improbable AL West division title, and you knew you had the makings of a special group and a special time. 

Indeed, through triumph and tragedy, the Oakland A's grew from a professional baseball team to an extended family that absorbed workers, spouses, and fans, laughter and tears and all.  You want to hold out to things like this.

It occurs to me that, in a small way, I do have such a community.  We don't spend weeks on the road, pour hours of sweat into perfecting our craft, and focus maniacally on one glorious championship outcome.  But we are bound together by something bigger than us, we do get intimately involved in each others' lives, and we rejoice together and weep together through the happiness and hurts of real life.

I am speaking, of course, of my church community.  And I really do mean it, for we are not the comfortable country club that too many churches in America have become.  Warts and all, we do life together.  That has meant rejoicing in redeemed lives, healed bodies, and the ability to love again.  It has meant delighting in beautiful children and happy couples and unexpected blessings.  It has also meant saying sorry, confessing sin, and asking for help.  It has involved being there when sons were murdered, marriages frayed, and jobs were lost.  We deal with the fallout of sexual trauma, substance abuse, and mental illness. 

And we do it all together, as one body, as the Biblical analogy goes.  As the A's have shown, it is a magical ride, one you just want to grasp onto and not let go of.  And, battered as we are, this church - and the Church, capital C - have more to go, and more to be added to.  And, in the end, it will be triumphant.  At the end of every A's win, Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" is played, fans rollick, and teammates high-five.  It's kind of how this A's fan imagines that heavenly moment will be like at the end of it all.

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