Category Archives: Sport

Never on Sunday

I know a few Christians who keep Sunday special- so much so they don’t even bother going to church – so I was amazed to read about   Dan Walker one of the new faces of the BBC’s football coverage. Dan will not work on a Sunday because he is a devout Christian. This took me back to the story of Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire (who ended up playing or was it refereeing  football on Sunday as a POW ) and of the early days of triple jumper Jonathan Edwards (who now is not even sure he believes in God). In today’s edition of The Sun newspaper

Dan is reported as saying “When  first told the producers on a major radio station I wouldn’t work on a Sunday they told me I’d never get anywhere in broadcasting. They thought the fact that I said on my CV that I wouldn’t work on a Sunday was some kind of joke. When I explained I was a Christian, and why I felt the way I did, one of them just sat with his mouth open for about ten seconds. Hand of God … Sunday ban It was a great job and they fully expected me to give up everything to work for them, but I wouldn’t – I didn’t get the job. I take my faith quite seriously and not working on a Sunday is part of that. I don’t even watch football on a Sunday.”

Dan firmly believes that Sunday is time for spending at church with his family and gives some background to his decision; “When I was 12, and about 2ft taller than all the other kids, I was asked to play for quite a few teams. The problem was all their games were on a Sunday. I had only recently become a Christian and this was the first time I was confronted with the issue of how I should be spending my Sundays. I firmly believe God was using that experience, even at an early age, to prepare me for situations in the future when I would need much stronger convictions. People often say it must be really hard to be a Christian and to do the work I do – I disagree. Special I think my job puts me in the same situations everyone else faces. The only difference is that people who work in the media are usually paid to have opinions so you can get involved in some heated debates.”

He accepts his stand is not a position all Christians would take; “Many people – even Christians – have asked me why I feel so strongly about the Lord’s Day. For me it seems quite obvious. God, our creator, has given it to us for our own good. Some will argue that Jesus Christ’s coming means we are no longer obligated to keep it special but I fundamentally disagree. There are still ten commandments and it is more important than ever to guard the fourth one – remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”

In the film Chariots of Fire Eric Liddell (who switched from the 100 metres because he refused to run on  a Sunday) is handed a piece of paper by the American Sprinter Jackson Schultz as Liddell is settling  down to run the final of the 400 metres  written on it were the words “The Lord says he that honours me I will honour.” Liddell went on to win the race and the gold medal against the odds. There is no doubt that in the world of sports broadcasting Dan Walker is winning against the prevailing tide- let’s hope he makes it to the better ground he has staked out for himself and that his stand doesn’t become a millstone like so many others have found.

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Filed under bbc, Broadcasting, Christianity, faith, Football, Sport

Religion- it’s a game of two halves (and no goals)

Today’s Times newspaper carried a wonderful write up of the inter-faith football (or soccer if you prefer) match between Christian vicars and Imams which fittingly ended in a scoreless drawn. HRH The Prince of Wales was on hand to present the trophy to both team captains after he had witnesses what he described as “quite a match” in a stadium in the Turkish district of Berlin. the idea of pitting Christians against Muslims was tried out in a charity match in Leicester in 2005 and was brought to Berlin by the local Anglican chaplain, the Rev Christopher Jage-Bowler. In the end the Christians were saved from  defeat by their 51 year-old goalkeeper- at least he had more claim than Maradona as the hand of God.

For the full story see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6194620.ece

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Filed under Christianity, faith, faith Christianity, Football, islam, peace, religion, Sport

Hillsborough

eternal-flame-at-anfieldAt 3.06pm today, silence will be kept in the cities of Nottingham, Sheffield and Liverpool to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster where 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives for simply going to watch a football match. For a preview of the day  from the BBC news pages see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7999279.stm. On this morning’s Thought for the Day slot on BBC Radio 4, the Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, spoke about the raw sense of loss and grief that is still very tangible in Liverpool as he prepares for this afternoon’s memorial service. A few years ago one of my favourite bands of the day wrote a song about the tragedy of Hillsborough and they were very clear about where the blame for this lay. The song was entitled South Yorkshire Mass Murderer and singled out the Senior Police officer running operations for that day, with lyrics including “There’s nothing I could ever say that could really take the pain away”.But today is not a day for blame but a day to remember and commemorate the lives of those lost. But that sense of raw grief and emptiness is what many people will feel today- players, supporters, survivors, relatives and friends of those who lost their lives. Sometimes as Christians we feel there is so little we can say or do in the face of what seems unjust, genuine tragedy- but when can pray. To see the names and faces of those lost in the disaster to help you  pray for them by name click here http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/news/drilldown/N163964090414-2356.htm

Today the great hymn abide with me will be sung at Anfield and our prayer today surely is that the 96 will indeed be abiding in and with God as they are remembered . their deaths changed the face of football and, like the eternal flame burning outside the stadium at Anfield, their memories will never fade.

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The end of everything good, the beginning of everything bad…

debaptism_cerificateToday I read that 1,500 people in just one week paid £3 each to be ‘debaptised’ by sending off for a parchment certificate from the National Secular Society. I don’t know whether to feel sorry for people who need to pay for sort of formal recognition to confirm that they no longer believe in something their parents arranged for them, or to be concerned about those who share my Christian faith being worried about this stunt undermining the fabric of our faith. It turns out that the certificate was designed by former NSS President Barbara Smoker who once considered becoming a nun and she feels it is popular because  there is the need for the sacramental “It’s always in the background, everybody has still got that residual echo of religion in their heads even if they rejected it intellectually.” I guess that’s because whatever we do our say, Barbara, God still believes in us and has a hope for us.

In David Peace’s book on Brian Clough, The Damned United,the atheist Cloughie lets us into his thoughts after the cremation of his mother:

“The end of everything good. The beginning of everything bad…. When you’ve gone, you’ve gone, you’re gone: that’s what you believe-The end of everything good. The beginning of everything bad….No afterlife. No heaven. No hell. No God.Nothing-The end of everything good. The beginning of everything bad…. But today, for once in your life, just this once, you wish you were wrong.”

Certificate or no certificate..baptised or debaptised..Christian or atheist, may today be the beginning of everything good rather than the beginning of everything bad and may we know the truth of the grace of of God who lets us make up our own minds. May we be blessed and at peace with whatever we decide.

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Filed under Football, God, national secular society, novels, Sport