July 2019

Originally published in the King’s Stanley Magazine.

Once upon a time it was very simple: the World Cup came around every four years and, in our nation’s folk memory, “we” won it once. Now it is more complicated. As I write this in mid-June, two other “World Cups” are underway, whilst Rugby fans are anticipating theirs later on this year.

My thoughts have turned in this direction because I have just seen the Cricket World Cup trophy in Bristol. It was quite impressive, yet I only noticed it by chance. I almost missed the prize that the top  cricketers from 10 nations are striving to hold aloft in celebration.

One of the teams who were due to play that day in Bristol was Sri Lanka, a team that has more reason than the other nine teams in the competition to get winning and losing in perspective. They were in Christchurch, New Zealand, back in March. It was a Friday and they were very close to a mosque when they heard gunfire and came across some of the victims fleeing from the scene. They had a narrow escape.

A sense of perspective is a real asset in life. So what if “X” is more talented or is better-looking etc. etc? Envy achieves nothing (apart from turning us green). We’ve messed up, but “It’s not the end of the world.” (I’m sure you can add other clichés of your own, as long as you remember that clichés are useful statements of the obvious!) Winning isn’t everything. Losing doesn’t make someone a bad person.

If we think about it, many of us will have had a narrow escape in one form or another. We were almost run over. The doctors operated successfully. That car almost hit ours, and so on. Our reaction is to be grateful, thankful, and determined to make the most of life. We might think that we have no trophy to aim for, but what about being the best “you” you can be?

The terrorist attack in Christchurch is a reminder of the reality of evil and hatred. The various World Cups remind us of the essential oneness of humanity, of all that we share with people who speak different languages, dress differently and look different, yet who are fellow creatures, “made in the image of God.”

That claim that we are all created in God’s image is made in the opening chapter of the bible, as both a statement of faith and a guiding truth to live by. The penultimate chapter of the bible is a vision of “a new heaven and a new earth”. Christians can have a narrow idea that this will be limited and exclusive, yet within that chapter is an all-embracing claim concerning the city at the heart of this new creation, the New Jerusalem,“The nations will walk by its light………. People will bring into it the glory and honour of the nations.”

At their best, World Cups celebrate humanity’s oneness and point forward to that promised “healing of the nations” in the New Jerusalem.  Enjoy this sporting summer, and enjoy aiming to be the best “you” you can be.  

With Christian love,

Robert Draycott (Rev) 

About Robert Draycott

After training at Regent's Park College Oxford for the Baptist Ministry I was ordained in 1976. My first Church was Wollaston in Northamptonshire. Then our whole family moved to Brasil where I served with the BMS in a variety of roles including teaching Theology and Biblical studies in Campo Grande. From 1992 -2010 I was Chaplain and Head of RS at Eltham College. I was Interim Minister of Eltham URC 2012-14, before moving to Gloucester in 2015.
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