“…you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” ~Ephesians 2:19
It was announced yesterday by the NFL that the number one selling player’s jersey for the first two-and-a-half months of the football season belongs to Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Nationally, Romo’s replica jersey is outselling LaDanian Tomlinson, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning. That’s initially surprising to me. But when I consider that the Cowboys — overall, the top selling team in NFL merchandise since April — have always been one of the more popular sports franchises in the country and the Cowboys’ best players have always been among the individual top sellers, it makes perfect sense. Plus, Romo’s such a great kid with such a great story. He’s come from nowhere (in football circles, Eastern Illinois is nowhere). He’s had to work hard for everything he has. He makes gutsy plays. And he’s always smiling. What’s not to like?
And the better the Cowboys’ record, the higher the sales. The Cowboys are always in the top ten among NFL teams in merchandise sales. But just two years ago, they had dropped to sixth. Now they’re back to number one, no doubt due to their 8-1 start.
All of us feel a human need to belong to something, to be a part of some group. We get our identity, in large part, from the groups to which we belong. And that something or some group should be successful and popular. The human drive to identify with someone or some group or some cause — even if it’s only a sports team — is enormous. So we buy the jerseys. We refer to our teams as “us.” These identifications make us feel important. We have a need to belong, to have some sense of fitting in the world. And from that sense of belonging, we have the confidence and ability to relate and accomplish things. Our own families, of course, are foundational in giving us a true sense of belonging.
And the apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2 that we do belong. Christ has brought us home to God. We live in God’s house as members of his family. And at the same time, we are a house in which God lives. We belong with God and are involved in what he is doing. The other people in this same house are family with us. This home defines us. Christ gives us a place in his world. And from that sense of belonging we grow in our abilities to relate to others and accomplish great things for the Kingdom. Ephesians 2 tells us to remember where home is, remember where family is: We are at home with our God.
And our Christian life flows from there.
The church, as a family of faith, ought to feel like a family. Family members care for each other, are committed to each other, confront each other, protect each other, and sustain each other. That same sense of family should shape our worship. Worship should not be like a production we watch. It should have the free and comfortable feeling of being involved in a family experience, joining together to communicate with each other and with our Father. No one should be allowed to feel like an outsider in the church. Everyone needs to know they belong.
From the players and coaches and GMs down to the trainers and water boys, you’ll never find nicer people anywhere in sports. Hockey people are by far the most accomodating, the friendliest, the most down-to-earth in all of sports. I’m convinced it has a whole lot to do with my theory based on the relationship between job hazards and pay and the way athletes treat other people. I’ll share that with you some other time. The point is that I really hate to see Hicks fire Doug Armstrong.
Maybe he needed to go. The Stars are obviously missing something. Being bounced out of the first round of the playoffs three consecutive years puts the pressure on. But the mediocre start this season along with the two or three total meltdowns we’ve already seen makes it so much worse. I just know that Doug was/is the most open, available, friendly, honest GM I’ve every worked with. He could be clear across the country, in a crowded airport, in-between planes, and still answer my phone call. He could be on Central Expressway or stuck in traffic between Dallas and Frisco and he’d still return my call. That was great and always made my job so much easier. But better than that were the times we’d visit in-between periods up in the AAC pressbox. I don’t have a ton of hockey knowledge. And he knew it. But I don’t think he ever got frustrated with me. He always answered my questions and explained things to me. And he always asked about my girls.
I’m not sure Brett Hull’s the guy to take his place. Hulley’s another one of those hockey players, like most all of them, who are just as down to earth as you and me. I love his candor and his wit. His talent, during his heyday, was unmatched. He owns the signature moment in Stars history—even if his foot was in the crease. I do know Hull will provide the media with many more volatile sound bites than the guarded and laid-back Armstrong ever did. And that’ll be interesting and fun. But this move by Hicks has all the marks of desperation. This is a huge gamble. It’s either going to pay off huge or it’ll be a complete disaster. I don’t know what to compare it to.
I just feel bad for Doug Armstrong today.