From the Rev: New Beginnings
If you went away a couple years ago, from Major League Soccer, and came back just yesterday, you might be surprised at the new look uniforms that many teams are now wearing. The Colorado Rapids (the team I chaplain) have a new kit look (see below), but not only is the look new on the outside, but on the inside as well. There has been a tremendous amount of turnover in the player personnel from two seasons ago and as some have declared, this is truly a different team, one that second-year head coach, Oscar Pareja, can truly call his own.
New beginnings, while not always easy in football or life, are often necessary. Living in a digital age, most of us are familiar with the keystrokes for restarting the PC (Ctrl+Alt+Del). That functional way of starting the computer over can help us get out of the quirky log jam that we sometimes never know how we got into in the first place. In football or other professional sports, such a hard restart may not be as simple or quick as keystroke combination, but sometimes it can be just as necessary. Life, too, and our faith is like that – we cannot keep going on with the old life style and the old habits and ways of doing things – we must be given over to a new beginning, a new way of living and experiencing life.
History has always been marked (though some debate how) with a beginning. The Bible begins, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” (Genesis 1:1). That beginning started with beauty and purity, but soon the conditions of the fall of man set forth a world in motion toward the necessity of a new beginning.
That new beginning has yet to happen (again enter in more debate and controversy) – but the Bible again declares that there will come a time when a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21) will be made. In that new beginning, we will see that a new order of things will be our reality, a new order to life will be true – here there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain. This is something that all of humanity looks forward to and many are hopeful for even today.
But while new beginnings bookmark both ends of history, there is often a “third” new beginning that is sometimes overlooked or neglected. This is the new beginning that happens within the interior of a person, in the deep recesses of the heart. It is a beginning of change and transformation at a spiritual level. It is the words of the Lord which declare the removal of the cold, stoney heart and replacing it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36). This personal transformation, this new beginning is promised when we embrace and abide in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is like the athlete who has surgery to repair dead or destroyed tissue – a new tissue is implanted and it comes to life!
The new beginning that happens inside of us is not merely comfortable or easy – it is often painful and hard, but it is necessary. Part of the work of the chaplain is to help open people up to see the importance and necessity of the new beginning. Often the athletes and professionals that we encounter carry around a “deadness” of the soul. Whilst chaplains, themselves do not implement the new beginning, we do sometimes introduce or make plausible the new beginnings in an individuals heart, mind, and soul. It is a delicate work, but one that is so very needed in a day and age when the soul is so neglected and malnourished. In a culture where physical and mental training is so highly revered – here the spiritual training, the training for godliness is nearly forsaken. Yet, it is the spiritual piece that is so central and key to the life of a person.
Some people that I meet often mistake “CrossTraining” as an elite physical fitness program – but what a great opportunity to share with them that there is another kind of training that is CrossTraining and it is a training that has value for this life and the life to come. It is a training that starts with a new beginning – one that happens on the inside.
Rev. Brad Kenney