It is now March, which can mean only ONE thing, the madness is upon us. Every year, right around this time, people all over the country cease their mourning for the end of football, rise from their ashes, and turn their attention to basketball. Nowhere is the madness more clearly seen than here in Indiana where we have our own proprietary name for March Madness, HOOSIER HYSTERIA! Whatever it is called, the excitement and passion for the game of basketball during the month of March is unbelievable. On Friday and Saturday, the hysteria was in full effect here in Seymour, Indiana. We knew that Lloyd Scott Gymnasium would be rocking on both nights as tickets SOLD OUT on the first day they were available. With a seating capacity of 8,100 people, it was obvious that our small town was going to be a big deal for a couple nights.
I had purchased tickets for my family, so we headed to the gym about 45 minutes before tip-off. We knew that the parking lot at Seymour High School would be full, as would most of the grass surrounding the parking lot. We headed to our church, which is located just across the street from the gym and high school. It was already packed as well, but we were able to find some space to park. As we walked across the parking lot towards the gym, my teenage daughter excitedly said, “Ooo, Dad! Wouldn’t it be awesome if the church parking lot was this full on Sundays?!” It would be beyond spectacular!
That brief exchange got me thinking. What drew 8,100+ people to Seymour? What was offered in Lloyd Scott Gymnasium that everyone was so desperate to be a part of? There are several things that come to mind; but if we condense them down to the lowest common denominator, I would say people came out for two things, Potential and Promise.
Many people came out to watch Romeo Langford, a top 5 high school talent, in person. Several waited in line for hours after the game to meet him, take pictures, and get autographs. The young man has incredible potential and very soon could be playing professional basketball, and we could potentially say, “I saw him in person back when…” Others came for the potential of their own team. They came for the potential their team had to cut the nets and lift the trophy at the end of the game. People filled area parking lots and crowded into the gymnasium because there were special people with great potential in the house.
I would also argue that people came out for promise, the promise of great basketball. As tournaments go on, the level of competition increases. On Saturday night, I sat around people from all over southern Indiana. Not one of us had any connection to the teams on the floor. We had simply come out to see some good basketball. We all awkwardly squished ourselves together on the promise of an engaging game.
There should be no gathering with greater potential and promise than when the local church comes together. When we come together for worship, we are joined by the presence of the Holy Spirit. God Almighty joins with us as we sing His praise, receive His Word, celebrate with each other, and seek His guidance. The promise of His presence is all over Scripture; and, where God is present, the potential is unrivaled. In His presence joy replaces sorrow, the broken are healed, hope is restored, the captive is set free, and death gives way to new life!
Back to my daughter’s comment, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if the church parking lot was this full on Sundays?!”–hearing her words, my heart was filled with joy because it is firmly in the realm of possibility. God has done more with less. So, as we walked, my heart cried out, “Make it so, Lord Jesus. If you show us the path, we’ll follow your lead.”