The Word on the Week

The Beautiful Game.

As one commentator said the morning after the fateful defeat by Spain – “No-one died!” True supporters of the game would not have been comforted by this as they recalled Bill Shankly’s immortal words, “Football is not a matter of life or death; it’s far more serious than that.”

To have progressed through all the qualifying stages was no mean feat. Hopes ran high perhaps blinding us to the strength of the opposition in our Group. The only thing we had in common with our Spanish masters was the refrain Olé, Olé Olé – Olé, Olé. It had lifted the nation back in the campaign of 1990 but now the Spaniards reclaimed it.

All we were left with was “The Fields of Athenry”. It’s hauntingly beautiful melody alleviated some of the misery of the evening in Gdansk. Fortunately the words, which evoke memories of famine, starvation and deportation on a prison ship, were largely indecipherable. For many the prospect of exile to Botany Bay may have seemed a better option than facing the Italians next week!

But it’s not the end of the world it just feels like it!

The disciples of Jesus knew all about disillusionment. Their Leader lay dead in the grave and with Him lay all their hopes and dreams.

As one of them put it, “We had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel.” St Luke Chapter 24 verse 21.

What he didn’t understand was that these hopes had been realised and that the one he was speaking to was the risen Christ!

Redemption had been completed. “It is finished” St John Chapter 19 verse 30 was the victory shout of a conqueror not the “I am finished” of a failure. These words, uttered from the cross, proclaimed forever that salvation was completed. Christ had conquered. The rebellion and disobedience of his people had been atoned for. The way had been made for repentant sinners to become part of that multitude in heaven and earth that follow Jesus.

As the poet put it:

My chains fell off, my heart was free;

I rose, went forth and followed Thee.

Followers of the Irish Soccer Team may have to wait for some time before their day returns but need not hinder them from looking to Jesus, whose time is now. Put your faith in him.