Recently, people all across the country have been fascinated by pieces of paper with complex systems of lines on them like some sort of strange tree’s root system. Many have shouted at televisions, hung their heads in despair, or pumped their fists in the air with triumph. It is March Madness; men’s and women’s college basketball tournament. Early upsets and upheaval, surprise victories and unheard of defeats have made this an interesting season and, if you are or know a college basketball fan, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you are not a fan and do not know any, then don’t worry. I’m not about to use a lot of sports metaphors. They don’t usually make a lot of sense to me either. Except for basketball or hockey which, of course, make perfect sense.
I remember the 1983 tournaments where a little team from NC State that no one dreamed would ever make it to the sweet sixteen, much less the finals, ended up defeating everyone and bringing home the championship. Along the way, they defeated (the then college player) Michael Jordan. The NC State Wolfpack was called a Cinderella team.
We love that kind of story, don’t we! The underdog sports team that surprises everyone by bringing home the championship. The Jamaican Bobsled Team competing well in the Winter Olympics despite ridicule and overwhelming odds. The last person you would ever think of showing up to save the day. The common girl who becomes a princess. The home town kid that no one thought would amount to much becoming a decorated war hero. The child with zero opportunity, advantage, or reason to believe in themselves becoming a physician, artist, musician, political leader.
Some of our most beloved fictional heroes are unlikely, surprising, and unexpected. Frodo Baggins, Neville Longbottom, Spiderman, Charlie Brown, Forest Gump, Katnis, Mulan, Cinderella, and Capitan Jack Sparrow are just a few.
I think God likes these kinds of stories, too.
Our text from our Old Testament lesson is one good example. Nothing in that story went as expected……