This is the second week of “From the Desk of the Pastor Blog.” I hope you enjoy my musings about the Olympics and what the Church can learn from these incredible athletes.

As a reminder, I will be on vacation starting Wednesday and returning next Thursday. Any urgent matters can be passed along to Kim who will let me know. Thank you all for the gift of this time away to rest and enjoy God’s creation. Aloha!

The Olympics have started. While I struggle with the idea that they’re happening without the highest level of protection against Covid-19, I have also found myself grateful for them.

Contradictory ideas can live inside us.  There is something incredible about the human spirit on display in all these moments of exhaustion, hope, and perseverance that remind me what a gift it is to be alive. It reminds me of the importance of pressing onward and the importance of resting to treat my body with dignity and care. It reminds me of the need we all have to hope for a future better than the present. It reminds me that perseverance is best done in community, where we hold space for the laments of others as well as their triumphs.

I loved watching the newest event skateboarding this weekend. No matter who it was or what nation’s team they represented, every time someone nailed a trick, the entire community was cheering for them. The other skaters were genuinely and truly excited for someone else doing something incredible. The commentator, Tony Hawk (the G.O.A.T. of skateboarding) said, “This is just what the skating community is like. We get excited for each other!”

I think that these skaters represent the best of what Jesus calls us toward. Instead of fierce competition being defined as beating someone else, what if we all strove with gracious compassion to become the best version of ourselves and cheered each other on in that same pursuit? What if as followers of Jesus we were’t known for legalism or hypocrisy but joyous participation in God’s life that comes through the skaters?

What if we were known for the sort of accountability that Simone Biles and the other victims of the sexual abuse rampant in the US Gymnastics program are demanding from the organization? What if we were known for pursuing gender equality with the same commitment as the Women’s National Soccer team?

Today, I’m deeply grateful for the life of our community at Covenant and the ways I see these traits in you. And I’m also encouraged by the Olympians on my screen that we can indeed become the Beloved Community that Jesus invites us toward. Maybe that’s the gift of the Olympics, that we can see ourselves in the human characteristics of the athletes (I surely can’t see myself in their athletic prowess!). If they can embody these traits of God’s Kingdom, then certainly we can too. Let us strive for the gold!

–Pastor Megan