Pastor’s Corner: The Final Five’s Challenge

As I watched the joyful, glowing faces of the “Final Five,” the Olympic champion US women’s gymnastics team, I suddenly realized that this small group of young women looks like America. Two are African Americans, two are Caucasian (and one of them is Jewish), and one is Hispanic. Granted, the team lacks anyone of Asian or Pacific ancestry, but they reflect the diverse backgrounds and cultures of our nation better than most small groups I can think of.

Even their victorious coach, Martha Karolyi, retiring after these Games, is an immigrant.

“Just like America,” I told myself.


They are vastly more talented than many of us (I watch gymnasts on the balance beam with my heart in my mouth, let along walking it); vastly more dedicated than many of us. They are vastly more mature than many of us; vastly more willing to learn from failure than many of us.

As they waited for the final score to post, I watched team captain Aly Raisman walk over to the Chinese team, their closest rivals, and offer a hug to each competitor. There was nothing awkward or forced about it. These young women, who meet and compete so often during the year, have forged friendships across national, cultural, and language barriers: making them vastly more generous, and vastly more affectionate, than many of us.

If I was ever cut out to be a gymnast (unlikely), those opportunities are long gone. But this team just offered me a challenge I can, nay must, meet. It’s time and past time to hone my talents with dedication, to build my maturity as I learn from failure. It’s time and past time to reach out to other people with generosity, and build friendships with affection. It’s time and past time to become an Olympic-worthy human being.

Thank you, Final Five, for setting the standard, and offering the challenge. God bless you, one and all.

Peace to you,

Pastor Eric

The photo is of US gymnast Simone Biles on the balance beam. Photo by Danilo Borges/ –, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Categories Pastor's Corner Reflections | Tags: | Posted on August 17, 2016

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