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A Wimbledon Musing for June 1, 2022

Romans 8:31-39

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son but gave him up for all of us, how will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ who died, or rather, who was raised, who is also at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than victorious through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Like many folks I have a bucket list of things I want to do or see. For example, I want to see the Grand Canyon—I have heard it is amazing and I have seen pictures, but from what I understand pictures simply do not compare to seeing it in person. (FYI, I keep looking for a teachers’ conference I can go to out there but no luck yet.)

I also have another bucket list. These are things I'd like to do for others or at least help facilitate for them if I can.

One of those things is to somehow help my mom attend the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament. My mom has never really played tennis to my knowledge and while she likes to watch tennis in general, she absolutely loves Wimbledon.

In fact, my mom rarely missed church when I was growing up but the one Sunday morning I knew she would not be in the pew was the Sunday of Breakfast at Wimbledon. However, on that Sunday we did have strawberries and cream for breakfast.

We watched all the Wimbledon greats—Connors, McEnroe, Navratilova, Evert, Lendl, Becker, Graf, Borg, Nadal, Sampras, Federer, Billie Jean King—you get the idea.

I remember in the late 1990’s - early 2000's two brash young sisters—Venus and Serena Williams—took the women’s tennis world by storm. These two phenoms were unlike any other women's players before.

They played ultra-aggressively, hitting the ball with tremendous power. They had an air of confidence that bordered on arrogance. Additionally, in a sport dominated by white players, these two African-American sisters embraced their heritage. Because of this, they often endured racism—even being criticized for simple things like their hair style (beaded braids.)

Although they are well respected and loved by most of the tennis world today, the Williams sisters had few fans when they started.

In fact, as I watch an ESPN “30 by 30” documentary on the Williams sisters and how they changed Women’s Tennis, I was reminded of when Serena Williams won the Wimbledon tennis tournament for the first time (2002.) During the post-match press conference, a reporter asked Serena if she was bothered by the fact that many—if not most—of the fans rooted against her.

“No,” she said. People had rooted against her all her life. “Besides,” she added, “my dad was sitting in those stands, and I knew he was rooting for me, and I wanted to please him.”

If there is a better description of what should be our hope and desire as Christians, I am not sure I know it. While a statement of faith was not what Serena intended, her words echo Paul in Romans 8.

Indeed, the truth that God is cheering us on is what we at times must lean on—especially when our faith leads us away from the popular opinion of the world.

Friends, doing justice, loving others, building bridges, engaging in dialogue, and working to build the Kingdom is hard and sometimes lonely work. But if we remember we are working to please our Creator then we will have strength to endure.

For surely if God is for us, it doesn’t matter who or what is against us.

In the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer - Alleluia. Amen.


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