The headline below the photo read:
Hear 'Em RoarPenn State beat No. 23 Illinois 64-63 on Thursday night. Was it the win that puts the Nittany Lions into their first Dance since 2001?
This is not exactly as miraculous as the empty tomb, but it is pretty amazing nevertheless. And as I read the report of the game and thought about the Nittany Lions possibly going to the Dance, I had a deep feeling of satisfaction. I was pretty excited when the Phillies won the World Series a few months ago, but this was a much different kind of excitement (not necessarily better, just different).
Since graduating from PSU in 2000, I haven't followed the hoops team too closely. I always know how they are doing (mostly bad), but today I could only tell you the names of two or three players on the team that won last night. Still, I found satisfaction in watching them get some national recognition last night.
As I thought about this, I was reminded of a definition of community that I came across a few weeks ago as I was preparing a sermon on Acts 2:37-47. 'A community is a group of individuals who have been bonded into a body through an intense common experience.'
I think that explains the depth of excitement in seeing PSU hoops get a little positive recognition for a change. For five years of my life, I spent 6-7 months of 40 hour weeks working for the Penn State basketball program, in hopes that some day the words 'Penn State basketball' might mean something beyond the walls of our locker room. All those hours shared by the young men who came before me and after me (players, coaches, managers, etc.) has knit us together in such a way that I still rejoice in their successes, even though I don't know most of the people involved anymore. I was (and am) a part of the community that is Penn State basketball.
And this makes me very excited to see the deep bonds that form among the people who I am now working with as we lead and serve the church that I am privileged to work for. Long hours working for a college basketball team can be a somewhat intense experience, but laboring to see a church become all that it can be for the sake of the Gospel of Christ is an experience far more intense. And I am exceedingly grateful to be cultivating a bond with the men I am now working with, a bond that will endure throughout eternity.
When things get difficult at the church (which inevitably happens even in the best churches), I will look back on today's basketball enthusiasm and hopefully be reminded that all the hard work for Christ's church will eventually produce a bond of love with those who I've worked with that far surpasses what any sporting event can give.
Now let's hope the Nittany Lions done't blow it tomorrow afternoon!