Our family has spent much of the last two weeks watching the Olympics.
As I am sure you know, the United States is blowing out other countries in the medal total. As always, we have dominated men’s and women’s swimming, women’s gymnastics, basketball, and are excelling in track and field.
These Olympics will be remembered for Michael Phelps continued domination of men’s swimming that resulted in him becoming the most decorated athlete in the history of the Olympics.
It will be remembered for Simone Biles doing what she was supposed to do, winning gold in multiple women’s gymnastics events with nearly flawless routines; and for Katie Ledecky almost lapping the entire pool in winning the 800 meter freestyle.
And, even though he’s not an American, it will be remembered for Usain Bolt cruising to victory in the 100 meters to remain the world’s fastest man.
All of these individuals came to the Olympics and did what they were supposed to do – win. And for that they will be celebrated.
But we won’t probably won't celebrate Rebeca Lissette Quineros from El Salvador who got into the pool with Katie Ledecky in one of the first heats and did what she knew she was supposed to do – lose by over a minute; or Diogo Carvalho of Portugal who got in the pool with Michael Phelps in an early 200 IM relay and came in last; or Jurgen Themen of Suriname, who drew the short straw in the first heat of the men’s 100 meters and got blown out by Usain Bolt.
We won't celebrate them - but we should.
These athletes and all of the others who were willing to show up, on an international stage, and compete, knowing that their “failure” was not only assured but was going to be broadcast to over a billion people, are truly to be celebrated and admired.
In them, we learn to do what God has called each of us to do: To take the gifts that God has given us, use them to the best of our ability, and to not be ashamed when the best use of our gifts does not measure up to someone else’s.
They remind us that we are called to participate enthusiastically in the mission of God to proclaim the gospel and to invite others to experience and extend the transforming presence of Christ, thankful that we are not accepted based on our performance - but the gospel.
- Pastor Michael