Monday, March 18, 2013

March Madness: The Basin and Towel Team

From my high school yearbook. The girls' basketball team. I'm hanging from the scaffolding at the lower right.
The brackets are out. March Madness is here. The Kansas teams fared well in bracketology. My own K-State Wildcats are a No. 4 seed, while the KU Jayhawks earned a No. 1 seed. Wichita State Shockers weren't left out of the Big Dance either. The NJCAA tournament begins tomorrow in Hutchinson, and the hometown Blue Dragons have made it to the tournament for the first time since 1997. Whose team are you cheering for?

It's the time of year for college basketball fans. I grew up watching basketball and even playing basketball - sort of. I was a member of a state championship basketball team. Actually, I earned two state championship medals, along with a third-place finish. You'd never know it looking at me. I'm certainly not a lanky 5'10" in my stocking feet, and I'm not particularly graceful or coordinated.

My alma mater, Skyline High School, earned state girls' basketball champion trophies in 1973, 1974 and 1977. I was on the 1973 and '74 teams, as well as the 1975 team that took 3rd at state. My sister, Darci, was on the 1977 championship team.
My sister, Darci, and I: In 2011, the Kansas State High School Activities Association celebrated 100 years of providing service to schools throughout the state.
I was more known for singing the National Anthem before the game ever started than scoring a winning bucket. My job was holding down the end of the bench. If the game wasn't tight, I might - just maybe - get substituted into the game in the last minute or so. As a high school girl, I often didn't see my role on the basketball court as particularly important.

But my Dad had a different philosophy. He always insisted that the people sitting on the bench were an important part of the team. And I don't think he was just trying to make me feel better. He was a basketball star in high school. He insisted that we bench-sitters were a valuable asset.

"Who do those girls practice against every day?" he would ask when I compared myself to the starting line-up and knew I came up woefully short.  "If they didn't have good people to push them during practice, do you think they could play as well during a game?"

I love watching college basketball, especially my alma mater, Kansas State University. In recent years, the announcers at Bramlage have added another component as they announce the game.

"Rodney McGruder for 3, from Angel Rodriegez," the voice booms out after a score. Instead of just recognizing the person who put the ball in the bucket, the announcer gives some recognition for the person who didn't take the shot, but rather, passed the ball and earned an assist.

Fans also play a pivotal role in the success of their teams. There's a reason that sports commentators talk about "home court advantage." (Let's hope that the Wildcats playing in Kansas City this coming weekend will give them that home court edge.) When thousands of people are loud and cheering (and, in the case of K-State games, doing the Wabash Cannonball), it can't help but add to the excitement and urge the players to give their very best. It's true during March Madness or during any part of the season.

The Wabash Cannonball at a K-State basketball game
Is being a member of God's team so different? While He wants us to use our talents to the best of our ability, He also wants us to be team players. It may not be our time in the spotlight, but He wants us to be the assist guy (or gal) and His No. 1 fan. 

As we experience Lent and make the journey toward Easter on March 31, Jesus is calling us to be self-less, not selfish. He gives us example after example in the Bible. Before Jesus went to the Cross, He had one final meal with his disciples.  He celebrated the Passover Feast with the ones He loved in the Upper Room.

But no one volunteered to clean the dusty feet of the disciples.  Until Jesus…
Stained glass window at Youthville Chapel, Newton, Kansas
Jesus “got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet.”  (John 13:4-5)  Even in this final meal, Jesus was teaching his disciples.

Jesus said: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)
How are we washing others' feet today? Is it through that sympathy card you sent to the grieving spouse from your Sunday School class? Is it when you show up at a high school game when you don't have anyone playing any more and cheer on the home team? Is it taking a cake to a funeral dinner? Is it leading or attending a Bible study? Is it volunteering at the rest home? Do you pick up some extra food and put it in the box for the food bank?

The possibilities to serve as Christ's hands and feet in this world today are plentiful. I've always loved this quote by Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which He blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are His body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Teresa of Avila
I just came across this song called "The Basin and the Towel," by Michael Card. Just some of the words are:

In any ordinary place,
on any ordinary day,
the parable can live again
when one will kneel and one will yield. ...

In humility, to take the vow,
that day after day we must take up the basin and the towel.

(Click here for all the lyrics.)

As we continue the journey of Lent and move toward Easter, it's my prayer that each of us - in any ordinary place and on any ordinary day - make the daily choice to "take up the basin and the towel."

This is my blog post for March at Lovely Branches Ministries. Check out what my friend, Suzanne, had to say about March Madness (I love that "One Shining Moment" video montage, too!) and read about how my friend, Keva, is choosing obedience through fasting this year.

I'm also linked today to Michelle DeRusha's Hear It On Sunday, Use It On Monday and at Jennifer Dukes Lee's Tell His Story. Be sure and check out what other bloggers of faith have to say at their blogs today.


  1. I know I have said this before, but your words and thoughts are so inspirational, Kim.

    The Teresa of Avila quote is awesome. It gives a lot for one to think about. I often think about Gretchen Rubin’s idea that what we do everyday is more important than what we do once in a while. Apparently Teresa lived her life that way too.

    Your Dad's philosophy is great! I think he is right.

    Thank You for giving me some ideas to ruminate on during chores this morning.

    1. Thank you, Robyn, for your encouragement this morning. It means a lot to me. Have a wonderful day! We are working baby calves this afternoon if all goes as planned. (I guess that's my basin and towel ministry today.) It would have been warmer last week, but at least this week, I don't have to juggle farm wife duties with accompanist duties since we're on spring break at school.

  2. Thanks for brightening my day. I love the words of the song. They especially hit home as we are wrapping up Lent. I'll certainly be looking for ways to pick up my basin & towel in the days to come.

    Naturally, we'll be watching to see how the Cats do in KC & wearing out purple.

    1. I truly appreciate you taking time to comment, Debora. It was one of those "God things" that I happened to find the song. I am thinking about ordering it for a solo, I like it so much! Go 'Cats!

  3. Beautiful song, thanks for sharing!And that quote from Teresa Avila, was so insightful. Gives you something to think about.

    1. Thanks for visiting Alecia and for taking time to comment!

  4. While you're cheering for K-State, I'll be cheering for the Iowa State Cyclones. But we're both on the same Jesus Team.

    (I'd sit by you on the bench anytime ... and shoot a few hoops, too. :) )

    1. I will cheer for Iowa State, too, just as long as they aren't playing K-State. I cheer for the Big 12. And you're right: I always cheer for Jesus' team! (By the way, my daughter's in-laws live in Iowa, her mother-in-law is an ISU grad and her father-in-law works for ISU Extension. Eric's grandma is a big ISU fan and she's the one who shared your blog with me to begin with!)

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