The 2016 Olympics comes to an end this weekend. Many of us have reveled in the special moments of individual and team victories for Team America; and our hearts have gone out to those who came up short in their quests. Some of us have been angry by the ugliness toward America gymnast Gabby Douglas, and embarrassed by the actions of four America swimmers. But overwhelmingly, we are so proud to have been able to share in the joy of the athletic efforts of all our Olympians, winning medals or not.

However, I also very much love the Special Olympics. They don’t get the fanfare and attention of the one just ending; but I think sharing joy in their efforts are even more important than those of the regular Olympics. Special Olympians often teach us incredible life lessons, like “The Golden Rule,” do unto others as you would have them do unto you. One story I heard years ago will always stand out to me.

At the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with relish to run the race to the finish and win. All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry. It is told that the other eight slowed down and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back. One girl with Down’s Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, “This will make it better.” Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes. People who were there still tell this story.

At Covenant we know that in the race of life, we’ve all fallen down from time to time. The weight of our challenges can make it difficult to get up and move toward the finish line. Our Vision of “Sharing Joy” lets others know that we will link our arms together with them and walk together with them toward the finish line of living life with hope, faithfulness and joy.

So join us at Covenant this Sunday in worship as a part of spiritually linking our arms together to move forward in the race of life, “Sharing Joy” and enjoying the trip. I will conclude my 3 part series on Covenant’s Vision “To be an inclusive community of faith – Offering Hope + Showing Faithfulness + Sharing Joy.” My sermon “The Vision of Sharing Joy,” will include a beautiful story of “Sharing Joy” that I heard this past week. The scriptural text for the sermon is “Jeremiah 1:4-10” and “Luke 13:10-17.”