St Mary Magdalene † St Bartholomew † St Alban †
Sunday’s 5th & 12th August 2012
“..in a race all the runners compete but only one receives the prize?” (I cor 9 v 24)
The Olympic Games are on, in case you hadn’t noticed, and I, for one, have been thoroughly enjoying them. The Opening Ceremony was stunning and the rendition of “Jerusalem” both deeply moving and, in its own way, a Christian witness in an event that supposedly celebrates the human, not the Divine.
Interestingly though, there are several metaphors to athletics in the New Testament, presumably because the listeners were familiar with sports and games. One of the best known is in I Corinthians “..in race all the runners compete but only one receives the prize” (I Cor. 9 v24ff). Paul sets himself the highest standard – Gold - and encourages us to do the same in our lives. No “prizes for all” here!
But, we all have our own races to run, or jump, or row or swim and it will be a different challenge for each of us, depending on our gifts, abilities and circumstances. As Christians we are called to be faithful, not necessarily successful. But we are called to take part: to use what God has given us.
And, for those of us who wouldn’t ever “podium” in anything, we can take heart from an informal Olympic motto, introduced by Baron De Coubertin (who founded the modern Olympic Games): "The most important thing in the Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." Apparently he got this motto from a sermon during the 1908 London Games!