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Crew - Monday Musing, October 25, 2021

Dear Church,

Crew. For the sports minded, the term crew is a familiar one. Rowing or crew is the sport of racing boats using oars. It differs from paddling sports in that rowing oars are attached to the boat using oarlocks, while paddles are not connected to the boat. Rowing is divided into two disciplines – sculling and sweep rowing – but only the sports aficionado would know the difference (or be interested). Much like all sports, there are many terms used exclusively for rowing (an insider language so the amateur stands out and endures the smirks of the professional rower!).

The Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR), first organized in 1965, is a rowing head race held on the Charles River – which separates Boston and Cambridge – on a weekend in October. In past years, hundreds of thousands of people would turn out to watch more than 10,000 athletes representing 800 schools and rowing clubs compete. The event was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, the two-day event, which was held this past weekend, brings over $72 million to the local economy. This prestigious sporting event is a must-watch competition for the rowing enthusiast.

It might seem odd for me to muse about crew, but HOCR was in the news this past weekend, so it got me thinking about the comparison between the sport and church. A good winning boat consists of athletes rowing together as a team under the direction of their coxswain. The boat has no power of its own. The power in the crew boat comes from human effort. If the boat is going to move on the water it is because the team is striving to create momentum. The same goes for church. We are a team, largely dependent on human effort. Our ministry is more difficult if our team is not in sync with one another – our members and friends holding up the vision and values of our congregation. There are different positions in crew; not everyone is doing the same task. The same is true for church.

In his first letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul writes: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. … Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.” (1 Cor 12:4-7, 14, NRSV).

So while the church of today and the church of tomorrow will require our cooperative, collective, and combined efforts to ensure that these 375-year-old bones live, our success will come by each of us operating effectively and efficiently, using our God-given gifts, working together toward our common goals. Thanks for being part of the crew. See you in church!




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