The Word on the Week

Winter Olympics

The 22nd winter Olympic Games opened this week in the Russian town of Sochi. Build over the last seven years on a piece of marsh land President Putin, who has links with the area, drove the project to its successful completion.

It was a herculean task to get the job done. The final bill of €37.5 billion is almost as much as the combined costs of the last two summer Olympics in China and the UK. It is as much a statement of Russian pride in regaining some sort of world ranking as it is a showground for a couple of week’s winter sports.

The 3,700 athletes from many nations marched into the stadium in front of 40,000 guests. The absence of some Heads of State, not uncommon at winter Olympics, took on a more political meaning as the unrest continues in Ukraine and Syria. The need for a high security level was underlined when there was an attempted hijack of a plane on a flight out of Ukraine. The hijacker ordered the plane to go to Sochi but was overpowered.

Following the tradition at these events to showcase the high points of the country’s history we were treated to an amazing display of talent and technical triumphs. Starting with the mythological troika of three horses pulling the sun we then entered a fairytale Russian city with its onion shaped towers and carnival atmosphere. The scene changed to Peter the Great’s time with his conquering ships making a way down to the Black Sea.

A ballerina played the part of Natasha In Tolstoy’s War and Peace and the 1917 revolution was depicted by a train and steelwork all accompanied to the music of Stravinsky’s Firebird suite.

The arena was darkened for World War 2 where Russia lost 27 million people. This was followed by the reconstruction of the new Russia complete with moon rocket and, rather quaintly, couples with prams representing the baby boom.

The show took on almost a religious air with the climax marked by anthems, oaths, flags and speeches on athletes living together in peace and harmony with no discrimination or performance enhancing drugs. The competitors were reminded that they were ambassadors for their countries and the obtaining of medals was to be second to competing fairly.

The Bible does not give us many glimpses of the glory but it is clear that Jesus is central to all that is happening there. St John surveying the assembled multitude recognised that they were singing about the risen reigning Jesus “they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation Chapter 5 verse 9)
Who are these people? St Paul, using the analogy of an athlete writes of himself, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy Chapter 4 verse 7/8).

Make sure of your place for that occasion on that Day – put your faith in Jesus.