Lion King

LionsChristians have a conflicted relationship with lions. “”The lion shall lie down with the lamb” is Isaiah’s soaring image of hope. The early Christians being thrown to the lions at the Coliseum? Not so good.

Of course Isaiah actually said “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11). Contrary to popular belief, there’s no lion and lamb lying together in the Bible. But in any case it’s a powerful image for the potential people of faith together hold.

Which brings us to the NFL’s Detroit Lions who won a game yesterday for the first time since December 23, 2007. They broke a 19-game losing streak by beating the Washington Redskins 19-14. On the surface, it was a meaningless game between two hapless franchises. But on another level, you couldn’t help but be thrilled for the Lions players — especially the ones who endured all 19 of those losses.

I watched the end of the game with Ben and Zack yesterday afternoon and the three of us had fun rooting for the Lions to finally win one. Sure, everybody loves an underdog (at least any red-blooded American). But this transcended the stereotype. To me it was about the amount of suffering one person or one team can or should endure. It’s hard to go on living without hope. And we all know people who always seem to be getting metaphorically kicked to the ground. It makes you wonder why — is it simply their destiny? Does God not like them for some reason? How can they break this cycle?

The Lions showed us that the way to break through is to simply keep showing up. The hope lies in picking yourself up off the turf and going at it again. Sure, it helps if you’re being paid a lot of money to keep showing up. But it’s still a lesson for all of us when we’re in the midst of our own personal 19-game losing streaks.

It was an amazing sight watching some of these huge men weep following the final whistle. I’m pretty certain God couldn’t care less about the outcome of a football game. But maybe it was time to offer a bit of hope to the long-suffering football fans in Detroit.

5 Comments on “Lion King”

  1. Monique Ellison says:

    Dear Fr. Tim,

    Thank you for these reflections. As a Detroiter, I am grateful for a friend rooting for this perpetually hapless team. Detroit could use some love, on the football field and off. I am glad for the win after so long. I am hoping most desperatly for people around the country to know something of the tenacity of Detroiters other than sports fans. There is some crazy crap going on in that town that it seems everybody hears in the news. I admit that. What you don’t get to hear much about is the great people who are doing little things to contribute to their neighborhoods and the city’s turn around. I am thinking of Avalon Breads, Flo’s Boutique and other small businesses, Greening of Detroit, all of the community gardens, churches and worship communities all over town. When we get that win, I hope the whole country notices and cheers.

  2. Father Tim says:

    Thanks, Monique. It’s nice to see the bags off the heads of Lions fans. Prayers for all doing God’s work in Detroit — I know it’s been a rough go for so many.

  3. Clare Hickman says:

    The kicker, of course, was that the people of Detroit did not get to SEE their team win after all this time, because it wasn’t televised. Because, I’m guessing, it wasn’t sold out. So I thank you for the image of the players crying, and I add my thanks to Monique’s for writing this. Love your blog, my friend!

  4. Father Tim says:

    Thanks, Clare. Yeah, there was a local TV blackout since the game didn’t sell out. Talk about adding insult to injury!

  5. Jim Kane says:

    Father Tim,
    My two teams are the Lions and the Bengals (the Browns are my childhood team and I want them to win as well). I was glad that they finally one.

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