Confessions of an Olympic heretic

1000 per week

I am not much of a sports fan, and I have never felt any strong emotion about any sporting event. Both those things changed last night as I watched the Olympic athletics. Jessica Ennis‘ winning smile outshone the stadium floodlights, Mo Farah‘s trackside family reunion would have melted the stoniest heart, and Greg Rutherford‘s undisguised joy with life was utterly infectious. Not only that, but watching the evening interactively with Twitter enhanced the whole thing. As one person said, it was ‘like having 1000 people there in your living room without having to share the snacks’! To have felt anything other than joy and elation would have been churlish surely?

Not surprisingly, the news broadcast which followed on from the end of Olympic coverage was dominated by the sports – almost. When all the stories of the medals had finished, I forced myself to keep on watching as Syria’s sad story unfolded. Could it really be that 1000 people were dying every week as the violence continues? Isn’t it somehow wrong that London with its glitzy lights, and Aleppo with her ruined streets plunged into darkness exist on the same map? Dwelling on such things on Team GB’s night of glory felt like a kind of Olympic heresy, but I couldn’t help it.

This morning I shall preach from the little book of Jude – a tiny scrap of the New Testament which packs a punch about faith in the context of folly. Roman Catholics turn to St Jude when all seems hopeless – maybe because of his gentle and hopeful attitude to those who are failing. His is a kind of theology which neither disguises nor denies the ambiguities of life – and frankly it is the only kind I can accommodate this morning.

Aleppo and London do exist on the same map. Jessica’s tears of joy and a Syrian’s tears of sorrow do flow on the same night. Neither cancels out nor diminishes the other. Faith, if it is faith at all, must have room for both.

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