During the 2006 Winter Olympics, my husband and I stumbled upon the sport of curling and have been hooked ever since. This winter, we decided to learn to curl.
Each curling game starts and ends with a handshake and the phrase “good curling.” Whether you won or lost, the enjoyment of being with others and playing together is the most important part of the game. While we tried to keep balance on a sheet of ice with a Teflon sole on our shoes or “throw” a 44 pound granite rock so that it stops exactly where intended, I learned a lot about the church and community. Yes, that’s right. I said curling has taught me a lot about what the body of Christ should exemplify. Here are three powerful yet simple lessons the church can learn from curling.
PASSION. Curlers are passionate about their sport. You may as well call them curling evangelists for how much they love the game and want everyone else to enjoy it too. Curlers believe this is one of the best winter sports and want to share the joy they have found. Not only do they say join us and discover for yourself how wonderful the workout, the strategy, and the community are, they also make room for you on their team.
Am I that passionate about Jesus and share the joy I have found in being his beloved child? Do I make room for someone new so they can experience this joy too?
ACCEPTANCE. After the game is over, curlers sit together around a table, enjoying conversation and some drinks. They talk about the game, complimenting one another on great shots or take-outs. Someone might share where he or she is struggling and encouragement and/or suggestions for improvement abound. This is an equal playing field of sorts where participants are not scrutinized or judged by age, vocation, status, or income. A doctor and a part-time crossing guard, a recent college graduate and retiree, a first-time curler and someone who has been curling for decades, sit side by side as equals, getting to know one another and enjoying their time together.
Do I accept people who are different from me? Do I welcome those who might have voted differently, look differently, or live differently to sit and talk with me?
GRACE. Everyone remembers that, at some point, they fell. While it’s part of curling, a slip on the ice can be quite serious and no one wants that to happen to anyone. This sport requires some coordination which, in order to accomplish, takes time and practice. We remember what it was like the first time we tried to curl, so there is grace that abounds and permeates each encounter. While curlers are fiercely competitive, the person is more important than the game, and a bad shot is not held against you.
Do I remember my own brokenness and have grace for others struggling on life’s journey? Or, am I more concerned about their struggle and fall similar to how a bad shot impacts a game?
I am writing this as I sit with a tired body, sore muscles, and a heating pad. While I am feeling a little pain right now, I can’t wait to get back out and try some more curling. How passionate are we, the church, to experience some discomfort to make space for someone new, graciously sharing the love of Jesus Christ?
As Christians, are we as eager for “good church” as some are for “good curling”?