I was still at church Sunday morning when I saw the headlines beginning to scroll across my phone. A helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and an unknown number of other passengers had crashed near Calabasas, California. There were no survivors. One of the greatest basketball players ever to take the floor was dead.
Even if you aren’t a sports fan, you know the name Kobe Bryant. He was famous for his ferocious competitive spirit and fierce work ethic. Kobe was iconic and, if some fans get their way, literally so. Two million have signed a petition to put Kobe Bryant’s image on the NBA logo. It seems the entire world has paused to mourn the passing of this 41-year-old legend.
But his wasn’t the only life lost. The helicopter was en route to Kobe’s sports academy in Thousand Oaks for a youth basketball tournament. Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, also died in the crash, along with two of her teammates, their parents and the girl’s coach. Nine people all told. It was a devastating loss for so many families and it has monopolized the news cycles.
But you might have missed the story about something that happened three hours before that fateful flight. Bryant and his daughter attended an early-morning mass at their family church prior to boarding the helicopter. The family priest reported that he served them communion at the 7:00 am Sunday morning service.
Millions of fans around the world idolized Kobe Bryant for his prowess on the basketball court. I hope those same millions will note and emulate the way he spent the last few hours of his life: He was taking his daughter to HER basketball tournament and, before that, he took her to church.
I know nothing about Kobe Bryant’s faith. But it is noteworthy to me that he would haul his teenage daughter out of bed so that they could attend an early morning church service BEFORE her big day on the court. If you could sketch out the final act of your life, spending those hours with your child in worship and in play…well, that wouldn’t be too bad a script, would it?
This weekend we will talk about the hours WE spend together as a family every day and how we can best use them to turn the hearts of our children toward God. And, we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. So haul YOUR kids—and yourselves—out of bed and come, join your Chapel Hill family as we celebrate life together.