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The Word on the Week

London 2012.

The big question – would the opening ceremony be able to hold a candle to the mighty spectacle that was Beijing 2008 – was answered with a resounding affirmative.

It was a triumph of history, sentiment and subtlety over the wonders of technology. This was creativity on a grand scale which combined well with British eccentricity to overcome the essentially boring mandatory parade of athletes as 204 countries take their turn at waving their flag.

It was also a geography lesson par excellence with unheard of places getting their moment in the sun along with the multitudes from the big nations.

Here was unity on a grand scale. Here was the world displaying harmony through sport. No more the boycotts of past games. Terrorism, a thing of the past. Not even a whiff of the doping and bribery that so often marred previous Olympics. This was a night to savour the ideals of the 5 rings representing the five inhabited continents linked in sport. Their colours replicated in the national flags with no nation omitted. The motto – Faster, Higher, Stronger, melding into the tangible trophies of Bronze, Silver and Gold in our imagination.

The flame or, in this case, the flames went up from each country to finally join into one symbolic blaze and just when we wondered how it would end we got Paul McCarthy singing his poignant masterpiece “Hey Jude” – a triumph of love over broken relationships.

Can the games match the opening?

What does the Bible have to say to all this?

The Olympics were around in Bible times. St Paul, who knew a thing or two about discipline and self control, used the races to illustrate both the endurance required in the Christian life and the relative merits of the victor’s crown.

This is what he had to say to the church at Corinth; “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (Chapter 9 verses 24/25).

I expect our own Irish medal hope, Katie Taylor, is familiar with these verses as she does not fail to commend Jesus Christ her saviour to others. I expect the next verse; “I do not fight like a boxer beating the air” is a truth which her opponents will have cause to remember for a long time! 

McCarthy’s song caught the essence of it. Trust in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice reconciles broken relationships for time and eternity. Put your faith in Him.