Jesus and I are watching the Olympics. He is a big fan but doesn’t like a lot of questions when the games are on. I ask, “So, Jesus—what do you do with those competing prayers? You know, ‘Make me win.’ ‘No, make me win.’”
He just gives me a look that says, “Wait for the commercials.”
He doesn’t mind if I make comments, just no questions. We are watching a replay of Women’s Snowboarding. One of the women falls hard, right on her butt and I say, “Even though they look like they’re wearing double-wide diapers in their pants, if I hit the ground like that, my pelvis would be—.”
“—Confetti,” he says without taking his eyes off the screen.
I’m not embarrassed for anyone to know that I watch the Olympics with Jesus because I take seriously his claim: “Do not let your hearts be trouble, neither let them be afraid, for I am with you always.” (John 14:27 + Matthew 28:20)
Whew! That’s pretty big—awesome actually. What I’ve discovered is that we really like this verse when we’re in the midst of deep grief or soaring jubilation. So it’s either life and/or death: “Please, Jesus,” or winning the lottery: “Thank ya, JAY-zuz!”
But in the everyday, brushing our teeth, watching the Olympics, going 35 in a school zone, we aren’t so aware of his presence. Why is that? Is it because the gospel stories are always about him doing something miraculous but not doing the dishes? Even washing the disciple’s feet (pretty mundane) was turned into a thing. It’s always dramatic: a fun wedding? Water into wine—another miracle! Death of Lazarus? A resurrection!
So this is why I’ve been talking to Jesus while chopping vegetables or vacuuming. Really nothing miraculous about that.
Finally the commercials and Jesus turns to me when they show the Olympic rings. “Citius, Altius, Fortius!” I say proudly. Faster, Higher, Stronger. I only know this because my sister has a 1932 Olympic flag framed and hanging in her living room.
He nods and raises his hand—you know the gesture—you’ve seen it in a million Greek icons. Anyway, he raises his hand, gives me a sly smile and says, “Citius, Altius, Fortius—Communiter.” He reminds me that in 2021 the International Olympic Committee added the word, “together” to point out the unifying power of sport and the importance of solidarity. Faster, Higher, Stronger—Together.
And isn’t that exactly what we’re trying to do as a church community? Serve with a love that is maybe not faster, higher or stronger but that is Deeper and Wider—together.
If you don’t think doing something together is unifying, try this little experiment: make your bed by yourself. You pull up one side. Too much? You run around to the other side—need more there. You pull again but it is too much toward the head? You run around to the foot—yikes, the mattress is showing. You yank it down from the bottom. But now is this side too short?
In the time it took you to read the above paragraph, your bed would be made if you did it with another person. And doing it together creates this bond—a kind of first-thing-in-the-morning-get-‘er-done solidarity that can permeate your whole day.
I will watch the rest of the Olympics with Jesus (who never answered my question)—and my sister. Our laughter is truly stronger, louder and longer when we’re together.