July 30, 2012
An Olympic Attempt for a Worldly Good
The sanctuary buzzed with delight and anticipation as Susannah and Tatyana spoke of being chosen to compete in the Paralympics in London. We all smiled with pride and eagerly applauded their triumphs. I wonder if this is what it is like for a celebrity to be embraced by a crowd of groupies. As Tim said, “I’ve never known an Olympian before.”
On a Sunday in July, the congregation at St. Andrew’s blessed their travels, their participation and their competition. Yes, we are honored to know these two young women with powerful shoulders and muscular arms who display amazing physical strength and endurance. Yet, we at St. Andrew’s also celebrate their hearts. These two women carry a gentle kindness, a faithful witness and generous spirits revealing God’s steadfast love. They know the courage needed to endure incredible hardships and find strength beyond perceivable limits. Out of this, they encourage and engage others to dream big and live fully. These women model ways of going and seeing and living compassion for the sake of others.
I am grateful to Susannah and Tatyanna for they have reminded our congregation that the Olympics are not only about the strongest or the fastest and the most powerful. These games are also about people from around the world gathering together to share in the joy of peaceful competition and the awareness of unity even in difference – difference of culture, color, and capability. These games of competition can also model compassion.
I believe these women are called to a unique ministry through this vocation of athletics. For they actively engage in our Christian teaching of peace and understanding. This is an Olympic attempt for a worldly good. We gave each a small rock to remind them of the God’s Love that steady as a rock, and of St. Andrew’s, a touchstone of this Love for others. And we blessed them with this prayer:
Strong and Faithful God,
We ask you to bless Susannah and Tatyanna.
Keep them safe from injury and harm,
Instill in them respect for the field of competitors.
May they find endurance to compete well.
Reward them with perseverance and discipline.
Grant them the will to go, eyes to see others, and hearts of God’s compassion.
As they have blessed St. Andrew’s and this university,
May they be a blessing to others as they travel and compete.
Guide them each day and give them what is needed.
Bless them with friends to cheer them along the way,
As they cheer others in peaceful competition.
May your Holy Spirit be present in their journey and race.
Almighty God bless them, direct their days and their deeds in peace. Amen.
Susannah Scaroni and Tatyanna McFadden will compete in the Wheelchair Track and Field 2012 Paralympics Games Aug. 29 – Sept 9 in London.