Tag Archives: Olympics

No Keeping Score with Forgiveness

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

As of the original writing of this post, if Michael Phelps were a nation unto himself, he would have ranked third in the number of gold medals won at that point in the Beijing Olympics. That’s impressive. Watching him and his 4 x 200 relay team members shatter a world record by almost 5 full seconds was impressive. Watching the Chinese gymnastics teams (both men and women) was also impressive. I do love the Olympic games.

One of the things I noticed about myself as I watched is how many new numbers I learned. Before last Summer’s Olympics in Beijing, I never knew what a world class split time was for 100 meters freestyle. Before then, I never knew how to calculate team averages in gymnastic rotations in the team competition. But I found my brain awash in these calculations night after night as I watched with anticipation. For a guy who went to law school so I wouldn’t have to learn any more math, I got wrapped up in the math of competition quickly…because the numbers are important in Olympic competition. It is how we remember athletes’ performances. It is how we keep score. And let’s be honest here, keeping score is important to us.

But in matters of grace and forgiveness, numbers are apparently not important to God. So I believe Peter was a bit befuddled by Jesus’ response to his question about forgiveness in Matthew 18. And I believe we are right there with Peter. Our chests swell with pride over how forgiving we have just been with a brother…for the [fill in the blank with your favorite number]-th time. We are proud because we are …

A Stunning Metaphor for Gathered Worship

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your comments and consideration.

If you watched the opening ceremony of last Summer’s Beijing Olympics, you saw a breathtaking and beautiful display of performance and pageantry filled with Chinese drummers, fireworks, acrobats, musicians and dancers. For me, one of the truly amazing moments was the 2,008 Tai Chi masters perfectly synchronized and presenting a stunning visual across the floor of the stadium. Check it out:


As I was preparing for that week’s lesson on worship, it occurred to me (actually, it occurred to Kappie, from whom I shamelessly stole this metaphor) that this gathered Tai Chi performance gave us a nearly perfect metaphor for gathered worship. Here’s how:

Gathered worship should involve sacrifice. To do what these guys did required months of preparation and rehearsal…months of sacrifice in order to pull off a single moment together.

My friend Stephen, who plans worship at my church, reminds the choir often that it is their weekly sacrifice at Wednesday night rehearsal (more than the service on Sunday morning) which is their spiritual act of worship. For gathered worship to be truly effective, there must be this sacrifice, this “rehearsal” in order to do something together that is more than just multiplied individual worship. Tai Chi truly is beautiful. One Tai Chi master or even a small group would have been beautiful. But the hundreds of hours of work required to pull off 2,008 of them moving perfectly together was inspiring beyond words. The sacrifice was notable. Our sacrifice should also be notable.

In gathered worship we are necessarily connected to one another. These performers could have all just done their own thing out there with no connection to one another. That would have been beautiful (if …