Advent UMC Eagan

Connect, Grow & Serve

Pastor Eric’s blog

Be Like Akron

A Message from Pastor Eric

Have you ever been to Akron, Ohio? If you grew up in Northeast Ohio, Akron really doesn’t stand out as anything unique. I doubt the city would stand out if you toured the greater Cleveland area. The architecture in most Northeast Ohio cities tells the same story. They were once manufacturing kingdoms, who saw a decline, and now struggle to be reborn as something new.

Grey and brown are the colors that dominate the landscape in cities like Akron. Lake Erie does nothing to help brighten the city. The lake controls the skies. Northeast Ohio is cloudy 300 days a year. Think about that, 82% of the year the abandoned factories rest under grey cloudy skies. How depressing is that?

These are just some of the reasons LeBron James is so important to Akron, Ohio. And, why Akron, Ohio is so important to LeBron James.

If you know me, you know I have a LeBron James man-crush. Although, I would not describe it in those terms. My admiration for James is rooted in my relationship with the people of Ohio. If you grew up in Northeast Ohio in the 1970s, you appreciate any form of hope. It was often so hard to find.

This week, LeBron James led the Los Angeles Lakers to a record-tying 17th NBA Championship. (5 of those titles were won by the Minneapolis Lakers). If you were watching the celebration, you would have heard LeBron thank Akron. Why would a guy who left Ohio for Tinseltown recognize Akron, Ohio?

LeBron James is very clear. You cannot tell a story of his success without the people of Akron. When he was a child, being raised by a single mother, the city took care of him. They recognized early that he would be someone special. So everyone looked out for him — police, civic leaders, teachers, coaches, and priests. Ever since he has looked out for and cared for the people of Akron.

I don’t share this story to encourage you to become a member of the LeBron James fan club. My point is to lift up how a community can influence the world, one person at a time. There is no way LeBron James wins 1 title, let alone 4, without the love and care he received from Akron. Now, as an adult, LeBron is returning the favor through his community work.

The pandemic is having a dramatic impact on our sense of community. Not the Eagan community, but the intimate community we developed in our congregation. I hope we can remain connected through the turmoil and threats to our hope so that we can continue our work to transform the world with Christ’s love. It is why I want to encourage us to be like Akron in its care of LeBron James.

The words I want to share with you are written in 1Thessalonians 1:2-3:

“We always thank God for all of you when we mention you constantly in our prayers.This is because we remember your work that comes from faith, your effort that comes from love, and your perseverance that comes from hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.”