Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Baltimore Ravens, Field Goals and Holiness

It's a week since Baltimore was dealt a heavy blow, when, in a matter of just a few seconds, our hopes for a Super Bowl were suddenly silenced, our hopes for glorious karma of winning a Super Bowl in Indianapolis were gone and men (and women) cried out in disbelief.

It all happened when our kicker Billy Cundiff missed the field goal that would have tied the game and sent us into overtime. (Or, you could argue when Evans dropped the touchdown pass that would have won us the game)

Some fans went into fits of anger, maybe throwing whatever they could get their hands on. But I think many of us, including myself, sat for a few seconds thinking "Did that really just happen??". And as for me personally, I spent the next few hours in a daze of disbelief.

I know what you're thinking "Okay, Amanda, what in the world does this have to do with your blog? It's just a football game", to which I would say "Just a football game?! What?!"
No, just kidding.

After I awoke from my daze of denial, I started thinking about the game in a different light. I realized that, while we lost, overall the Baltimore Ravens have nothing to be ashamed of. Yes, you read that right. Our quarterback, Flacco, played better than Brady did. Our defense held the Pats offense to field goals instead of touchdowns and they sacked Brady various times. People, NFL commentators and fans alike, didn't have a lot of trust in Flacco before the game - they relied on our defense to win it. Instead, the team worked like just that - a team, rather than individuals.

So, what does this have to do with holiness? A lot, I think. The teamwork that the Ravens exhibited represented how we humans need to work together as a community to lead a holy life. Just as Flacco couldn't have won that game by himself, Ray Rice couldn't have won that game by himself, nor could Ray Lewis or Terrell Suggs - so we can't reach holiness without the help and support of others. In the Acts of the Apostles, the first Christians weren't Christians individually - they became a tight community, a team. We can't live a Christian life alone and we've known that from the very start of our religion. Sometimes working as a team means role models, sometimes that means encouragement, sometimes that means a shoulder to cry on, and sometimes that means remaining optimistic in the face of adversity.

After the Ravens lost, Ray Rice responded to the various complaints by fans by his Facebook status: "And one more thing...games consist of SIXTY MINUTES, NOT 20 seconds so before y'all start bashing MY kicker on this page, let me say this is a TEAM sport, win or lose...so if you want to be negative, keep it to yourself." Ray Rice presents an excellent example of teamwork....even after the game, after the loss, he refers to Cundiff as his kicker, not the kicker. He also presents a good (although secular) example of Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of ChristSo the Ravens didn't win and sure, there were things that they could have done better, but they worked as a team and they almost made it to the Super Bowl. That makes the game nothing to be ashamed of. 


In a life of reaching holiness, we might be sacked, we might fumble, we might miss the pass....or even miss that crucial field goal....but if we work as a team, we might just get closer and closer to holiness and, by doing so, get closer and closer to Christ. And that means everything.

So while others are still grumbling about our missed opportunity, I say "thank you, Ravens, for a great season, a good game and for making me reflect on my own Christianity"

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