I spent my Saturday after Thanksgiving watching ESPN’s “30 For 30” documentary on the 1983 NC State Basketball team. The documentary came on back to back, and it was so good, I watched it twice! An amazing story of how an unexpected “Cinderella team” managed to win the National Championship under the legendary coach, Jim Valvano.
In the documentary, “Jimmy V” said he often inspired his team based on the idea that “ordinary people do extraordinary things!” His ’83 team certainly proved that philosophy.
One of his players, Thurl Bailey, (who many deemed an “ordinary” center and no match for the 7-footer from Virginia, Ralph Sampson) shared a letter the team received from a wife whose husband was battling cancer. She became inspired by the ’83 team and played the games for her husband on TV. The wife hoped her husband would hear the progress of his favorite team as he laid in his hospital bed in a coma.
After sharing this letter, Bailey said, “This isn’t just about us winning games, this is about hope!”
This year, I found the transition from Thanksgiving to Advent disappointing to say the least. After a joyful season of giving thanks, observing the beauty of God’s creation in the trees and leaves, and spending time with family and friends over a bountiful meal, I felt overwhelmed with the commercialism of “Gray Thursday,” “Black Friday,” and “Cyber Monday.” I felt saddened over what is happening in Ferguson, MO, and our inability as a nation to deal effectively with racial discrimination, racial profiling, race relations as a whole, and issues regarding immigration.
Despite what is happening in the present world, I have the audacity to hope!
Mark’s Gospel, Chapter 1, vv. 6-7, reads, “Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.
John would have been deemed an “ordinary” citizen in his day. After all, his clothing and his diet seems to suggest that to be true. Yet John saw himself as an unworthy servant who proclaimed One that would come and do extraordinary things. One that would come and restore Israel and the weight of the government would fall on his shoulders. He would be born to a poor peasant mother who would be favored by God to birth the Messiah.
“Ordinary people do extraordinary things!”
He will give hope to those who lie in hospital beds. He will give hope to those who feel inferior or disenfranchised. Most of all, He will give hope to those who are in need of a Savior.
Let us remember Advent is a sacred time on the Christian calendar. The Season of Advent is not about getting good bargains and waking up early to beat the rush. Advent confronts a troubled society and cradles it through a God in the crib.
May the God who calls “ordinary people” to do extraordinary things call us to be unworthy servants like John. May we proclaim to all who are in need that “this is about hope!” Hope in the one who was, and is, and is to come!
Reverend Doctor Lynn Brinkley is mother to Taylor and Director of Student Services at Campbell University Divinity School, where women’s gifts and calling are celebrated. An experienced preacher, Dr. Brinkley utilized her DMin studies to create a manual for preaching etiquette for guest preachers and host churches.