Magazine articles - May 2019

Dear Friends

Sport is an important part of many people’s lives; watching, playing, and and for some, gathering up a encyclopaedic knowledge.

Is sport important to God? Does he see sport as a good thing? Does he have a favourite sport? God wants humans to thrive. He has given us bodies capable ofskill and high fitness,anfor spectators an appreciation of the beauty of bodily movement, the attainment and display of skill, and joy in seeing a team working well together.Could there be a spiritual dimension and perspective to these activities? Does it help us feel and know more of our Lord? Does it aid us in growing as more fully human, children of God?

God became flesh in Jesus? Did he play sport? Could he swim? Did he run enjoying the freedom of his body moving well, the breeze against his skin, the beauty of the Galilean countryside? He certainly walked long distances, and served for most of his life in the manual work of carpentry.

It is competition that makes sport. Is competition a good thing? Is competition part of the life of heaven? There is a saying, ‘the value is in the taking part, not in the winning’. Jesus taught us to put others’ interests before our own.Learning to compete, win and lose, to achieve and fail, are all important life skills to learn. Competition is part of life, eg’s job interviews and house buying and selling. To do well, each team player must look to the interests of the team, away fromselfishness, self glory and pride. There is opportunity for  individual talent to be revealed, but must be used in the context of the whole team’s efforts. Andwhen we see two teams playing well against each other,they offer to the crowd an exciting, display of skill, fitness, and teamwork. Such games area sign of what we can be and do,a sign of what community, all relationships, including between nations can be.

Many sports are enjoyed all round the world, by all sections of society, bringing people together of different religion, ethnicity, nationality, income, or gender, to enjoy a common interest together. God is a God who loves unity amongst all peoples, and weeps at our divisions and hostilities.

Some feature of sport are clearly wrong and need naming: excessive training, sport or a team as an idol, unbalanced lives,cheating, demonising opponents, violent conduct amongst players and spectators, tribalism, jingoism, racist abuse amongst fans and sometimes racist attitudes within clubs.

Well, for the time being I’ll stick to trying to keep myself fit by walking and the gym. But who knows,, when I retire I might well go to Old Trafford from time to time (the cricket).

With love and prayers