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United Church of Christ

533 Route 28, Harwich Port, MA 02646 | Phone: 508-432-1668

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Waves of Faith-February 16, 2018

Many of us have been watching the Winter Olympics. We sit in awe of the feats of speed and agility that mark the olympic games. We also find in these games a story of our country’s youth. For two weeks we are exposed to many young people for whom sports have become a huge part of life. Through television we see them up close, we learn about their stories, their families and their struggles. 

These young adults become household friends almost. Their youth and vitality give us a feeling of hope for our nation and all the nations of the world. There is something essentially optimistic in bringing together young athletes from many countries to compete in one international arena.  

One of the stories I will remember from this 2018 Olympics is the story of 17 year old snowboarder, Chloe Kim. Her father was on the slopes cheering, as he has been every step of the way. He arrived in the US from South Korea to study engineering in 1982. He and his wife raised their children in Los Angeles. When Chloe got really interested in snowboarding, Mr Kim left his engineering job to travel to competitions with her, to help her train and pursue her dream. Now that she has won a gold medal he says he hopes to go back to his career. 

Chloe Kim won the gold medal by displaying a kind of grit and determination which has characterized her ascendancy in this sport but which is rare even at this level of competition. Her first run was virtually perfect. She earned 92 points and was a shoe in for the gold. But she had the chance to go down another time, and decided to take it. At this point she said she would be dedicating her run to her grandmother who was watching on television in South Korea. In an unbelievable feat of athleticism and gutsy verve she did another run that topped the first and earned a score of over 95. 

A lot of people are saying that she is the face of the dreamers - the children in the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Her picture was brought into the Senate this week as lawmakers debated immigration. (At this writing the Congress has reached a stalemate.) What I think Chloe Kim’s story tells us is that she was made stronger when she recognized both her past and her present. Her dual allegiance was not a problem but a strength. She was happy to represent the US and to have grown up here. But something about her heritage brought her to a new level of excellence. 

This is a feature of human beings that is being lost in this immigration debate. We are not defined by our country of origin, or our race, or our families. When we claim our wholeness as people we come into our own.  Where we are moving as a world community is toward a place where people celebrate their ancestry in all its multi-faceted glory.  Our whole journey is part and parcel of what makes us unique, and it holds the key to our potential. When Chloe Kim represented the US she was excellent. But when she remembered her origins and her family connections she achieved greatness. She claimed a moment in this Olympics which will place her in the history books. Her achievement was all wrapped up in being in her ancestral home. 

The original olympics were held in ancient Greece between 800 BC and 400 BC. But the modern olympics re-invented this ancient practice and introduced it to the world stage in Athens in 1896. In the 120 years since, this athletic competition has done a lot to promote world peace by bringing all the people of the world into one place for two weeks in the winter and again in the summer every 4 years. People from every continent, each city, town and village gather to watch. This week millions of human beings share an experience and remember how much we have and hold together.  That image gives me hope. 

Rev. Susan

Posted: Friday February 16, 2018