Sources of inspiration and hope (August 2021)
In good contrast to last year’s Lockdowns, 2021 has ushered in an extraordinary summer of sport. As a family we have been covering each Formula One Grand Prix, some cricket, football of course, the British Lions and, as I write this in mid July, we look forward to being absorbed in the Olympic Games from Japan, despite its absence of spectators other than on TV.
I also notice how much conversation is generated by sport. During the Euros it was possible to anticipate the result before each match, to discuss every move during each match, to conduct a thorough post-mortem investigation after each match, and, once we had reached the semi-final stage, you could even talk to complete strangers at the bus-stop about the footie!
Talking is good. Living in and around Cambridge for several decades we have been fortunate enough to gain and visit friends abroad. In Scandinavia we noticed how much people love talking about politics. Family and friends would happily chew over all sorts of issues of the day over a meal, or during a drive or an afternoon walk.
What I love about sport, though, is that it goes beyond the interesting to something that is inspiring. Sport raises hope, and when people are hopeful they are often generous. So in July £38,000 was raised supporting a young girl who had been caught on camera, devastated after Germany lost. She gave it to a children’s charity. A young man who had missed the Euros’ semi-final because of he was giving a bone marrow donation, was awarded tickets for the final.
In our churches this year we were able to have weddings again, and a wedding is similarly inspiring. Each couple has a unique story of how they found each other and wanted to commit to each other. In the Catholic Church this is a sacrament: a sign of what God is like - looking out for us, and committing to us. We have heard again that inspirational piece of poetry from the Bible (1 Corinthians 13) about love:
Love is patient; love is kind… It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
What is great about sport is the talk, the stories, the hope, goodwill and generosity it has already engendered, and will – I hope – continue to engender as the new domestic season begins.
Greater even than all of that is the love that goes on well beyond a season. St. Paul’s message to the Christians at Corinth ends with the promise of God: Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.