john davies
notes from a small curate

updated regularly
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK


    Blue Coat School 03/07/2002

    I wonder, what was your personal highlight of this yearıs World Cup?

    My personal highlight wasnıt Owenıs goal against Brazil, great moment though that was, nor was it the Ronaldo magic which finished off Germany. For me, the highlight of this yearıs world cup came the afternoon I spent in the park with my nephews and their friends playing out our own version of England-Brazil. I was pretending to be Pele in my 1970 Brazil replica shirt and in a flash of brilliance, did a neat one-two with someone pretending to be Ronaldinhio and, from the tightest of angles, toe-poked the ball past someone pretending to be David Seaman. Forget all the games we saw sat in front of the TV - that was the greatest moment for me.

    Sport does that to us. When we watch great sporting endeavour it rubs off on us lesser achievers. Even if weıre just watching on TV, we feel better about ourselves when we've shared in the thrills of horse riders, the skills of golfers, the physical wonder of gymnasts, the endurance of marathon-runners. Sharing in the success of those you support brings something extra-special to your own life. And it encourages you to get involved yourself.

    Thatıs probably why, during Wimbledon, all of a sudden everyone's on the tennis courts. Watch over the next fortnight: once the Tour de France begins, youıll see a lot more cyclists out on the roads. You may even be one of them.

    And all of this is good. Sport, in its purest form, is inspirational. Thatıs why Christianity celebrates it. St Paul wrote about the life of faith in sporting terms: 'let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us', ŒRun in such a way as to get the prizeı, and so on.

    Like us today, the New Testament writers lived in a sporting culture - remember where and when the Olympics began. They encourage us that, just as we share in the aspirations and achievements of sportsmen and women, so we can share in the aspirations and achievements of our God.

    I doubt the New Testament writers had in mind some of the excesses which sporting competitiveness brings - violence, drugs cheating, obscene financial transactions. Sadly some of our religion is equally degraded when its followers lose their proper perspective and go all out to Œwinı - to win every argunment; to prove that theyıre always right, to put peoplke down who disagree with them. Thatıs not what faith is meant to be about. Thatıs where faith can learn from good sport.

    The innocent thrill of getting out into the park, laying down two coats as goals and Œbending it like Beckhamı, right into the top corner - thatıs a pure and wonderful thing, and Christians know that our relationship with God is getting somewhere when that provides us thrills in just the same way - the thrill of Œgoing the second mileı for someone, the excitement of seeing your prayers answered, the wonder of realising that your thoughtfulness has helped to enrich someone elseıs life...