Monday, May 7, 2012

Soccer as Sacrifice










Game Day dawns on a tired team. The day before had been an 18 hour travel day with two flights in coach and a five hour van ride packed like sardines in a metal box on wheels up windy, steep mountain passes into the Chinajá mountain range in northern Guatemala.

They arise early because there is no time for rest. There's a soccer match to be played, a village to be fed, and a gospel to be proclaimed. So, early, they repack their gear and finish their travel to the home field: a four hour hike up a rocky mountain path to the village of Sesaltul. They are the away team.

The hike is uphill, and splits a cornfield growing at a 45 degree angle right off a mountainside. They rest, but continue until they reach their destination:  brothers and sisters in Christ and those who are yet stranger and alien.

On their backs they carry jerseys for the home team, dinner for the entire village, tents to sleep in, and a trophy to give to Guatemalan winners. They knew before they left America they would lose the game, their best energy was spent in just getting there.









They pitch tents and enter the soccer arena, a littered field the length of an American football field. Men run and play like boys, and for awhile, the cares of life disintegrate into a set of rules with a ball and no hands, sportsmanship, clear goals, and team effort. A village is entertained.

It's a reprieve from daily survival for a whole village, a luxurious expenditure on pleasure. Like Christmas morning, those yellow shirts flashing adornment across an otherwise bare green. The scene is lavish and laughable, the poor made rich. It's an alabaster box broken and spilling soccer in a far away, humble village; the beautiful aroma smells like sweat.









There are hot dogs and cookies, children going first instead of last with colorful stickers and joy rising. A trophy is ceremoniously awarded, losers pray for winners, and men live out T-shirt words, plastered sweaty across their backs. Loving, Reaching, Growing: Fully devoted follower of Christ.


The day ran out into the arms of night like men who hiked a mountainside for soccer and ran right into the blazing heart of God. He consumes the soccer-and-supper sacrifice offered on a Guatemalan altar, like a hungry village eats hot dogs. The aroma to the Lord is sweet perfume. Not from an alabaster jar, but from the stuff that is far more precious: earthen vessels broken and spilling God's love.

Sharing Xtreme Guatemala with Jennifer's God-Bumps community.

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