My team, the Essendon Bombers, have had just about the roughest year an AFL team can experience. Twelve players suspended for the entire season before the season even begins - players who were let down by the club and in most common senses were treated unjustly. With the loss of pretty much their entire senior list of players the Bomber's weren't expected to win a single game in 2016.
Round two came as a surprise then as the Bombers put it all together to beat Melbourne. As a fan (and club member) a ray of sunshine shone over 2016 - maybe the young guys could pull it together... was this 1993 again and the Baby Bombers doing the impossible?
No... no it wasn't.
Loss after depressing loss was to follow - in round 8 I sat in the members section at Etihad Stadium as North Melbourne walked the Bombers over the park for the first half of the game (the score at half time was 54-4). There was a comradery among us members sitting in the top row of the stadium... united in our support for a team that had no hope. But the second half was so much better, the Bombers played well, they pulled the margin all the way back to almost winning, only to lose by 14. It felt like a win though and I even got a hug from some guy I'd never met just in that moment of celebration.
The season is still a right off - we'll be the wooden spooners for sure, but even in the small victories, there must be celebration, it wouldn't be worth it if you didn't. Even back in round 8, we lost by 14 but the way the team played was a victory, and as fans we celebrated what we could - and it felt great!
Celebrating the victories is so important. Especially when the tide is against you, and you're not in a place to even compete most of the time - like my team in 2016 - then enjoying the wins (even if technically on the scoreboard it may not look like a win) is key to pushing through to a better tomorrow.
In so many cases of ministries in church we are hard up against the world... how can small youth groups compete with the entertainment industry of a consumeristic world? How can your average church music band compare against the music and pop culture pretty much everyone is influenced by? Simply the challenge of calling people to something uncommon creates an environment in our world today that makes the tide feel very much against us.
But celebrating any victory is vital - because there is an element for the Church that is not found in the sporting world, and that is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. The victory is Jesus' - it always has been and always will be - and He puts the playing field in our favour, no matter how hard pressed we feel.
And so to celebrate the wins is to give Jesus the glory for his victory - and that lifts us. Sometimes we are so focused on our planning, on the next event, or simply on continuing Gospel work that we don't stop to celebrate when Jesus works. We need to stop, sing the team song, praise the One who is actually at work, and enjoy the moment where we see His hand acting in victory.