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Dear Friends

 

I hope you like sport, with the world cup football starting this week and going on for over a month. If you’re an England fan, I don’t suppose it will last for as long as that! Then as soon as the football finishes, Wimbledon starts. At the same time, the tour de France cycling is held, then later this year there is cricket, Formula 1, Rugby and the European Athletics Championships. Phew!

 

Actually, sport features quite often in the writings of Paul, the apostle. At that time there were four major Greek-style games: as well as the Olympic games at Olympia, there was the Pythian games at Delphi, the Nemean games at Argos (no, not the shop!) and the Isthmian games near Corinth.

 

The Isthmian Games were held at Corinth every two years, and as Paul was there in 50 and 51AD, he would have seen the excitement in the city. Competitions were held in: running, chariot racing, horse racing, javelin, boxing, wrestling, discus throwing and shot putting.

 

The prize in these games was a so called “corruptible crown”: so, at Olympia it was a crown of olive leaves. at the Isthmian Games, a crown of pine leaves. at Delphi a crown of laurel leaves and at Nemea a crown of parsley leaves.

 

Paul makes reference to this more than once. For example, he says; “They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever.” (1 Cor 9:25) And towards the end of his life, he writes; “The time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.” (2 Tim 4:7).

Perhaps life can appear like a race sometimes, at times it’s a breeze, at others it may seem like an uphill struggle. But Paul’s overriding theme is one of perseverance, of seeing it through with a determination which will be rewarded at the end. Because we don’t run the race on our own, we are a fellowship, a family, and when someone falls, a collection of hands reaches out to pull them up and help them back on track. And when all is said and done, we’re all winners, because Christ has run the race before us and won the victory for us.

James Taylor, Interim Moderator

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