Proper 6, June 12

1 Kings 21:1-10 (11-14) 15-21a
Psalm 5:1-8
Gal. 2:15-21
Luke 7:36-8:3

Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.
(Psalm 5:8)

A couple of months ago, we took our two boys to their first minor league hockey game. My husband and I used to love going to games when we were in college, but it was a different experience to try to explain to a seven-year-old and an eleven-year-old why fighting is allowed (and why the crowd cheers for it!). We were thankful that our kids were too young to understand the creative gestures that the penalty-boxed players were making toward the other team!

But what caught my attention at that South Carolina Stingrays game was one single sign, tucked nonchalantly among the billboards advertising local legal firms and doctor-in-a-box clinics. It said, in simple lettering on a plain white background: “TIKKUN OLAM,” and in smaller print underneath: “Repairing the World.” As we watched that game, every time a player threw down his gloves, every time a stick slammed into someone’s knees, my eyes went back to that quiet proclamation.

When the first goal was scored, the entire crowd spontaneously threw packages of underwear and socks onto the ice, and the game stopped while the players used their sticks to gather up the donations. It was “Undie Sunday,” when the team collects new undies and socks for kids in need. Later, between periods of the game, local nurses came out to receive hundreds of boxes of Band-Aids, given by the team’s fight-loving fans, to help supply the nearby children’s hospital.

I was familiar with the Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam, but when we got home that day I immediately got online to try to understand what “repairing the world” had to do with a hockey team in Charleston, South Carolina. Turns out the team’s owner is a Jewish businesswoman who takes seriously the call to do good work–God’s work–in this difficult world, helping to repair the world’s brokenness using whatever resources she has. And her resources are not just a bank account and a good head for investments. One of her resources is a hockey team!

Surrounded by the world’s brokenness, the Psalmist prayed–and we pray: “Hear us, O Lord! Hear our cry, we plead to you! We know you hate wickedness; you won’t live with evil. You knock down the boastful, destroy the liars, hate the bloodthirsty.”

Surrounded by the world’s brokenness, the Psalmist prayed–and we pray: “You love us enough to welcome us to your house. We honor you! Make a path through the boastful, the liars, the bloodthirsty, and lead us on it. Because our enemies will always be with us; because we face them every day we walk in this world; because sometimes we become our own enemies–show us how to live in your righteousness.”

We pray: “Not in spite of these enemies, but because of them–because the world is torn, because we ourselves are torn–lead us to be repairers, with whatever resources we have. When the gloves come off, when sticks fly, when we witness obscenities, when blood spills–lead us quietly, ever-presently, in Tikkun Olam.”

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is an ordained Baptist minister, at-home mom, and military spouse living in South Carolina. She blogs at One Faithful Step.