Alright, I’ve got a crazy list of “what if” questions for you. Ready?
What if the characters in Ted Lasso prayed? What if they believed in a loving God who laid down His life for them so that they might spend eternity with Him? What if they engaged in intimate dialogue with God on a consistent and regular basis? What if they found refuge in the wisdom of the Scriptures and the Saints? Imagine what would be possible for these characters if they knew the gift of God! Crazy, I know, but I feel confident the characters and the audience would be better off if that were the case.
Ted Lasso – Trailer
Season 3 of Ted Lasso has forced me to have both a discerning mind and an open heart. I say “discerning mind” because I am under no illusion regarding the secular worldview through which this show was written and produced. We are in an apostolic age where the prevailing ideology and moral code is not Christian. Thus, there are ~plenty~ of behaviors, ideals, and misrepresentations that are opposed to my Christian worldview. But, at the same time, it no longer feels like propaganda or like there is an agenda. It simply feels like the people behind this show believe they have found a good and honest way to wrestle with the human experience, and they are telling a story through that lens.
So, I say “open heart” because in their effort to grapple with the human condition and make sense of things, they have still stumbled upon realities that transcend our world and invite us toward a higher one. This should come as no surprise because the writers of Ted Lasso also have had written on their hearts, as have we all, the story of redemption and a God who loves them. For this reason, I believe their characters still have lessons to offer us regarding the necessity of faith, hope, and love in a fallen world.
I am rooting for Ted Lasso and the Richmond Greyhounds. I want the team and her members to win, I really do. These characters have good hearts and I have a deep affection for them. They show me how good I can be, and at the same time how misguided I can be. They remind me of my desperate need for a Lord and Savior and how without the awareness of one, I would inevitably settle for far too little. I can’t be surprised at the choices these characters make. They’re the same ones I’d make if not for the grace of God and the revelation of Jesus Christ who is The Way.
And yet, look at the fruit being borne from their story even when it does not follow Jesus along the way. An audience of millions throughout the world is being moved, inspired and uplifted by this award-winning series. I’ve teared up several times so far watching this season. I’ve been prompted to wonder and reflection on the divine. I have seen the Lord in this story!
How much more then, if this story flowed from minds and hearts given over to Christ’s? That’s what I want. That’s the life I want for our beloved (fictional) characters at AFC Richmond. That’s the life I want for the writers of this show. I want people’s creativity and passion to burst forth from an intimate relationship with their Creator. I want it to be the fruit of their prayer. I want it to be a deliberate participation in the Great Story. Is this too much to ask? I don’t think so. At Easter masses around the world, men and women ask this for their own lives.
All those who desire to be baptized and join the Catholic Church are posed this question: “what do you ask of the church?” They respond “baptism.” Then at the Easter Vigil Mass where they are baptized, they renounce sin and profess the faith. To the following they say “I do.”
Do you reject sin so as to live in the freedom of God’s children? Do you reject the glamour of evil and refuse to be mastered by sin? Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness? Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth? Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting?
There is sin and evil and darkness in this world. We must reject it. But because God so loved the world, He sent His only Son to dwell among creation and redeem it! There are signs of life everywhere, and we need to ask for the grace of baptism to recognize those signs and to be partakers in what they promise. Maybe the invitation for the Christian viewer of Ted Lasso is similar to those desiring baptism. We renounce the lies of Satan and affirm the truths of Christ, asking for the grace to stand resolute in the distinction.
In a beautiful scene from Episode 7, Sam Obisanya’s dad, Ola, encourages his son to begin again. “If you really want to piss off the people that did this, forgive them. My son, listen to me. Don’t fight back, fight forward.”
Yes, to follow Jesus along the way, purification is needed and much will have to be pruned. Untwisting will need to occur. But as we say no to the flesh and to the world, it is at the service of an even greater yes to the abundant life offered in Christ.
Contemplation on Ted Lasso Season 3 will continue next week with part two of this reflection. For what do I ask? Baptism, where everything good is not only affirmed, but elevated.