World Cup Rugby Word on the Week 12th October 2019
It was a good idea to hold the competition in Japan. It would popularise the game in the Far East. The world cup would be an opportunity to showcase the best teams in action. After all southern hemisphere rugby is the best and geographically Japan was logically the next country to get involved. Rugby is well known as a contact sport. As players, now turned professional, get bigger and heavier the injuries become more severe. “I’m going to play rugby” – the five words a mother dreads when uttered by her 7-year-old! In order to address the injuries that had given the game a bad name the laws were changed recently. Any knock on the head or loose arm around the neck of an opponent and the referee is mandated to produce the dreaded red card. The decision can be appealed but usually a 3 match ban is the penalty.
This World Cup is the first use of the rule on the world stage and has resulted in 7 cards being awarded at the half ways stage of the tournament as opposes to 1 red card given during the whole of the last world event. However, the change in the rules are nothing compared to the change in playing conditions the teams had to cope with. They effected the Western sides the most. They had never played in high humidity with temperatures around 38 degrees. Japan on the other hand was “at home” in this climate and has done well so far in the tournament.
There has been some adverse comment on the state of the turf but the big problem is the approach of Hagibis. This is the name given to the biggest cyclone to hit Japan for 60 years. Already two matches have been cancelled and some others may follow playing havoc with the programme. Years of training count for little if cancellations due the severe weather cancel the game.
St Paul was familiar with the training and payment of athletes. The training had to be rigorous and the payment appropriate. Just as the Old Testament Priest received his share of what was offered on the alter so those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. Likewise, professional rugby players get their income from the game. (1 Corinthians Chapter 9 verses 12 to 14).
What St Paul recommended was for the proclaimer of the message to empathise with those he was sharing with in an effort to remove any distractions to the gospel. This involved training to subdue bodily desires going so far as to describe himself as a slave to serve the task of making the Gospel plain (1 Corinthians Chapter 9 verses 22 to 29).
This getting out to others the Good News was his passion. That we are saved from the penalty our sins incur, not by our baptism, nor our works of kindness, or our church attendance but simply recognising that Jesus went to the cross, in our place that we, the sinner may go free. This recognition that Jesus completed the work is the awakening of faith. It permits you to go on to trust completely in the work of another – Jesus. The Holy Spirit then transforms you, bit by bit, till the transformation is complete in the glory (1 Corinthians Chapter 15).