Revd Howard’s August/September thoughts….

I suppose that over the past week or so the topic that has dominated the media has been the Olympics in Rio. Unsurprising I guess, as they only come every four years and whether we are sports mad or not, there is considerable interest in just how well [or otherwise] members of Team GB perform.

As I write ‘our’ team is not doing badly… indeed, just as successful as the London 2012 Games and likely to be a better haul of medals at the end compared with any previous ‘overseas’ games. Proper justification for the money that has been invested in all aspects of training for potential athletes.
One of the aspects that comes across quite forcibly as one hears the interviews conducted in the after competition ‘slots’, is that the outcomes are the result of very considerable dedication and persistence in rigorous training over many years…. and what is also a common factor is the involvement of those close to the athlete, family and friends, who also have made, often not inconsiderable, sacrifices in their support. Family and social life put on hold to enable the athlete to achieve. Such dedication to a cause is a worthy example to those of us who stand by and watch…. a job worth doing needs to be worked at consistently and persistently and set-backs met head on and overcome.

Another emotionally powerful sign was in the opening ceremony [and will no doubt be repeated in the Grand Finale]… pictures of a group of about a dozen athletes completing under the Olympic flag. Significance? They were all refugees… unable to live in the land of their birth. A visual example of an organisation that found a way to restore the humanity of these folk helping in a small way to remove them from an anonymous statistics file. In this act they have been acknowledged as individuals, full people with talents and a future and worthy of consideration and affirmation.

It is good for us to be reminded in our world that we should as society and as individuals recognise the similarities that join us as ‘homo sapiens’ rather than allowing the differences we have and hold to dictate our actions towards others and particularly towards those whose backgrounds, beliefs and cultures differ from ours.

That group of refugees in Rio are but a tiny icon of the masses of similarly displaced and disenfranchised world-wide [the last figure I heard was that they number some 60 million!]. This is a major problem that faces all of the world and from which we cannot escape some responsibility as part of a rich Christian based society. Our involvement, our response is not necessarily easy, it raises big political and socio-economic issues but nevertheless our responsibility as Christians is clearly illustrated in the example of Jesus himself and given the definitive support and command when he said ’… anything you did for one of my brothers here, however humble, you did for me…[Matt 25, v40]