Monday, June 20, 2016

Joyfully Witnessing in Cleveland

If you are living in Cleveland today, it’s hard not to be a joyful witness.  I never thought I’d see the day of a championship in this town.  No matter what your favorite team sport, 52 years is a long time to wait. 

After watching the Cav's win the NBA Finals championship game, I watched and cried along with the team and hundreds of thousands of others, listened to neighborhood fireworks, and, although it was late at night, I picked up my binging and ringing phone every time I got a new alert sharing the exciting news with those I love.  From my son’s “Wooooooo” text all the way from Alabama to my nephew’s phone call from New Jersey, sharing with me, his conviction that his dad (who passed away last year) had to have something to do with this special Father’s Day victory, one couldn’t help but share in this happiness and connect the love a joyful moment can bring to connect heaven and earth.

Continuing to watch the coverage on TV into the wee hours of the morning, I watched as the news stations had every reporter out there in multitude of locations asking so many questions trying to get every angle of the game; finding personal witness stories for the cause of this joy and how it all happened in their eyes.  The Cav’s coach, Tyronn Lue wished aloud his grandfather could have been there.  What an intergenerational moment it was watching LeBron James give his interview with his little girl in his arms and family by his side.  I watched player after player thanking friends and family for the gift of their support and love.  How beautiful it was to be an observer of so much familial love.
Apparently, this was the truth for many; turning to social media, Cav’s posts flooded everyone’s pages.  I saw a post from a friend who claimed to have “liked and shared” every Cav’s post on Facebook.  Joyful moments are meant to be liked and shared.  Turning to the religious side, Fr. Damian Ference, diocesan priest in the Diocese of Cleveland tweeted, “I think we should call this moment #TheResurrection.”  I paused there to note some similarities.
I considered the events of a story from long ago, where Mary Magdalene found an empty tomb and discovered Jesus in the garden instructing her to “Go and tell the others”.  Once she realized the joyous event she was witnessing in that moment, how could she not do so?  And, once that flicker of joy was fanned by sharing the Good News with the disciples--and carried on by disciples of every generation thereafter--how could we not in two thousand plus years have a full fire of hearts burning within us, a church guided by the Holy Spirit continuing to “go and tell the others”.   We are all called to be joyful witnesses.  As disciples, we are able to share the joy-filled event from every angle, from generation to generation, using every media we have, our lived experience of connections between heaven and earth.
As we experience the spreading of joyous news in our midst this week, let’s stop and notice how it feels, what we notice, and the infectious spread of joy; in these moments we will also learn how to joyfully witness to the Good News of the resurrection, the Good News of the Gospel.  These days offer us an extraordinary opportunity to learn more about HOW to be Joyfully Gifted disciples.

So today and throughout this week, fellow Clevelanders, in our spotlight moment, let us continue to be joyful witnesses to the Good News by connecting our faith experiences with this event of a championship win.  Let us continue to observe, listen, and learn techniques from one another on how to be joyful witnesses to one of the happiest moments this town has seen in 52 years.  Remembering, we are all called to be witnesses as we live our faith in Jesus Christ.

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