I learn more from players than they’ll ever learn from me! As our team prepares to host the 63rd Annual Concordia Invitational Tournament, our senior captain Noah Kegley, agreed to share a message he gave to his teammates. Noah helps answer a question I hear on a regular basis – What is Concordia?
As a pre-seminary studies major, I am all too familiar with studying, whether it’s theology or parsing obscure verb forms, it’s what I do. With high hopes of attending one of our synod’s fine seminaries in the fall, one night over Christmas break I forcefully locked my uneager self in my dorm room and began to do what I do best – study. I was paging through a thick, heavy, and loaded doctrine text in order to pass a qualifying test for my admittance to seminary. I took hours attempting to slay the beast, and my energy plummeted by the minute. My interest wavered the further along I read. What seemed like centuries later, the end was near, the amount of pages I needed to read before I finished was so close I tucked myself underneath my covers. Then it hit me. It was one of those light bulb moments in the cartoons. I scanned across a term in my textbook that resonated with me. The term was concord, in Latin it’s concordia. According to my textbook, the word means “from the heart,” and “refers to the desire to bring about full union and understanding in the Christian church through a common confession of doctrine and not simply an external unity.” I realized that concord has everything to do with basketball.
BASKETBALL – From the heart!
As a member of the Concordia University Wisconsin’s men’s basketball team, half of my wardrobe says Concordia. However, merely wearing the name Concordia does not cut it. Basketball is more than a jersey, or an external unity. Unity is found in the heart. Just as it is with the Christian church on earth to strive for one confession of faith, that is, Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, our team strives for one confession, one heart, and one goal, a championship. This is easier said than done. It’s at this point in the season where it’s easy to shred a team’s concordia. Hearts grow dull in practice, ears ignore a coach’s constructive words, and our eyes roll when we are told we mess up again. Players begin to get tired of the same drills, coaches getting on their case, various forms of injuries, inter-squad issues, the list continues. If a team is merely a group of guys wearing a jersey with the same name and colors on it, forget it! It no longer has concordia. But, the teams that maintain their oneness, in other words, their concordia, are the teams playing deep into March. Coaches can scout a team to the finest of details, simulate as many game-like situations in practice, and give as many pre-game pep talks as they like, but it’s ultimately up to the players on the floor to execute the game plan. Concordia on the basketball court must come “from the heart” of each player on the team.
LIFE – Family Unity
When I was growing up at home life was similar to a zoo with all of the different activities we had. My parents were constantly driving us around to different places and my two younger sisters practically grew up at my soccer tournaments. Our family also saw health issues with my father, and in the midst of all of the craziness, our parents are the glue that held our family’s concordia together. No matter what the situation was, and still is today, we are still Team Kegley through it all. All of our hearts are together. We have each other’s back.
FAITH – Unity of Believers
When Adam and Eve sinned, humanity became separated from God. It’s part of our sinful nature to separate ourselves from God. We try to tuck away those sins which we think are not so bad, or puff ourselves up to make ourselves feel better than what we are. We do not understand what it means to be concordia. In Matthew 13 Jesus speaks to crowds using parables. The disciples asked why Christ speaks using these parables. Jesus says, “This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matt 13:13). We are like the crowds and do not understand what it means to be concordia with one another because of our sinful nature. Thankfully, through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, we now have Concordia with God and eagerly await eternal life with Him in heaven. We are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and we can live with our hearts together in serving Him.
“ So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from live, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1-2)
The Concordia Invitational Tournament brings together four institutions from the Concordia University system. All four teams will wear Concordia on their uniforms, but year after year, the champion is the team that best plays from the heart and plays with unity!