The last time I cheered for the home team I was 18 years old, wearing a rhinestoned costume and wine red lipstick as a member of Liberty High School’s Sapphires dance team. Although high school was certainly not the “golden years,” I do have fond memories of football games: the chill of the fall air, the hype of the marching band, and the general buzz created by the host of families and community members who came out to support the local team. In fact, I remember often bemoaning the fact that even more people didn’t come. It would seem that somewhere over the course of my adolescent years I created a new kind of Norman Rockwell image, that of an entire community sharing in a common experience with a unified will: a win for the home team.
As the ladies of the Bolhuis family led Daniel and I into Korhonen Stadium, the home turf of the Richards’ High School Bulldogs, I was admittedly excited. We could hear the distinct, punctuated rhythms of the marching band as we walked underneath the flag pole bearing the wind-tossed American flag and Richards’ colors. Immediately I was captivated by the pulsating throng of people shifting in and out of the stands: students, parents, families, community members, and long-time fans. We were soon sitting in and around a colorful gathering of people from our community, people with whom we now share a connection, however remote.
In between cheering at a stunning interception, holding my breath on a fourth down, and bracing for vicarious impact, I observed the students who passed beneath our row. Many things seem to have changed in the 10 years since my time in high school: the fashions, the technology, the political climate. And yet, many things are perhaps still the same: the classic lunchroom dilemmas, the popularity pyramid, the looming pressure of college or career choices. In any event, I became keenly aware of these students, curious about their experience at Richards, wondering if they truly trusted their friends, if they aspired to any certain profession, if they had a guiding sense of hope for the future. Even now I can see their faces pass before my mind’s eye like the framed images on a spool of old-fashioned film. These faces, these young people, unlocked a quiet part of my heart, a dormant longing for an entire community sharing in a common experience with a unified will: a “win” for these members of the home team.
It is true that Daniel and I have a very limited sphere of influence in Oak Lawn.We are new; we are too young to have much experience, etc.And yet, everywhere we are believing and around us, and perhaps at times in spite of us, God is continuing to do what He has been doing for a long time: raising up a community to share the experience of caring for others, like the students of Richards’ High School, with a unified will: demonstrating and declaring the love of Jesus Christ.