Thought for the Month, Matt Smith

Football, Floods and Faith

You may have noticed in July that there was a certain football tournament on that had been postponed from last year. The Euros came and as England progressed through the stages, the quiet hesitant words of “it’s coming home” began to be voiced across the country. Now I’m more of a rugby fan to be honest, but I know enough to understand the offside rule and occasionally enjoy watching fully grown men roll around on the pitch, only to be fine seconds later…. Miraculous healing still happens! Many were the real prayers of followers when Christian Erikson collapsed on the pitch in the group stages, reminding many of the fragility of life even in football. As we progressed those murmurs of “it’s coming home”, got louder and louder and we began to hope for a place in the final. People began to plan for “that” Sunday, schools and workplaces planned for late starts on the Monday and for once it felt like the pandemic was not the top topic of conversation.

Our boys did us proud, but it wasn’t to be. Young lads with the huge pressure of taking penalties stepped up to the mark, they took the risk of success or failure, to put so much on the line, maybe when others wouldn’t. Someone had to win and someone had to loose, but they may get other chances in the future to play for their country that means so much to them, to take the risk of success or failure and do their best.

Another news headline last month was the fires in Canada and the floods in Europe coupled with the heatwave in the UK. Homes and communities have been devastated by them both, including a large loss of life in Germany. Our world is buckling under the pressure that our lives and the lives of our predecessors have lived. The issues that the scientists have warned about for years are now no longer predictions but a reality. Just as the pandemic has changed the way we have lived for the last year and a bit, are these events, the things that we need to push further and faster for a change in the way we look after our planet? What will the world look like for generations to come?

Rather than “it’s coming home”, a phrase that appears in the Lord’s Prayer that we remember in our services each week is “Your Kingdom Come”. This is a reminder that the world as we know it is not what it is supposed to be, but that there is a hope for a better future. That fullness of God’s Kingdom to come includes perfect harmony with each other and the planet, but in trying to achieve it now, we can make the world we live in better. This will take courage and tenacity like that of those that stepped up to the penalty spot, it will take the prayers of a collective community coming together over a common hope of something good, it will definitely call for a change to the way we live.

All through the Bible, we find examples of people stepping up to a task that they don’t feel able to do, Gideon, Moses and Timothy, to name a few, but who took the risk to speak up, to step forward and fight for change regardless of success or failure. That baton is now passed to each one of us. The Good News that we have to share is that we worship a God who cares for everyone and the planet we live on. A God who has the ability to change and transform lives through the love that was shown through his Son Jesus Christ and the continuing power and presence in the lives of his followers around the world through the Holy Spirit that lives within us.

Football and floods have reminded me that our faith challenges us to take up our own rallying cry of “it’s coming home” as each day we work towards a future without abuse, division, fear or destruction but of unity, love and joy. Lord, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!