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I grew up being a devoted fan of the Calgary Centennials, the one time local junior hockey team. One night I took that dedication a little too far. Without telling my parents, I took our family dog, some provisions and money, and went to the game that night. That was my version of running away from home and the express edict that I would not be allowed to go to any more games, and when I did get home I was in plenty of trouble.

But it was worth it because there was something special to be among the fans.

Fast forward 40 years or so when I recently jumped at the chance to attend the Flames home opener against Vancouver. I intentionally took the train because it’s way more fun than driving because you are among a crowd Flames fans dressed in versions of the team jersey. It creates a sense of belonging. I even brought the horn to blow–for some reason people wanted to try and blow it so that added to the fun on the way to the ‘Dome.

The feeling of being a fan amongst other fans sometimes defies analysis. What is it about donning the team jersey and cheering a team on that creates a bond between strangers where none existed before?

There’s a story in the Bible, in Matthew 11:28 where Jesus says he will take our burdens. In Matthew 20:28 Jesus said that he has come to serve and not to be served (in the midst of an argument who among the disciples was the greatest).

Sometime ago a friend asked me. If Jesus was to ask you, “What can I do for you?” What would be your answer? She had me stumped for a few days. I eventually replied like a prayer, “Jesus help me to be a part of creating a sense of belonging for those that want to belong. Help me to create bonds with people that feel left out on the margins, help me be a part of chasing away loneliness and creating unity.”

Being part of something like this is only human. Sports teams in moments can do it. How much more could a community of Jesus followers?