July 2012

Olympic ponderings

I suppose it’s possible that you hadn’t noticed, but London is hosting the Olympics from the 27th July to the 12th August and the Para-Olympics from the 29th August to the 9th September. Apart from the road improvement works around Saddlers Farm to improve access for the Hadleigh Mountain Bike event that has been causing traffic chaos in South East Essex for many, many months, there has been little direct impact on us as yet. That is about to change.

For us in Rayleigh the main event that will affect us is the Olympic Torch Relay that comes past the church at around 10:30am on the 6th July. Many of the schools in Rayleigh are either lining the route or opening for registration later so that children and their parents can participate. Though it is only a best guess, Rochford Council are suggesting that over 5000 people may line the Rayleigh Torch Route. Christ Church will be open for tea, coffee, cold drinks and toilets from around 9am. The car park will be closed for safety reasons; it will be a good place to overlook the footpath and the torch convoy.

It is interesting however to note people’s reactions. I know of some who are planning to be lining the streets very early to get a good position and other who shake their heads, mumble darkly under their breath and plan to be in the garden or in France or anywhere other than London Road, Crown Hill or the High Street out to Rayleigh Weir.

The build up of media hype and the wall to wall TV coverage leading to and continuing after the Olympics opening ceremony will leave people in either wonder or exasperation. Unless you go sledging in Siberia you are unlikely to be able to miss it. As London prepares for the arrival of the 'greatest show on earth' in 2012, many of us probably feel quite overwhelmed. Apart from the Church being open on the 6th July, we at Christ Church are not planning any great Olympic events. It will be for individuals to enjoy the sport or not, pay huge prices for the tickets or not.

The Olympics are a 'once in a lifetime' moment in all our lives as the rest of the world is coming to us, and sport will be at the forefront of everyone's minds.

Perhaps in all the hype and the media exposure we need, just every now and then, to give thanks to God who created athletes who can excel. As we see athletic dedication and determination, to ask God that we can learn to be dedicated and determined to serve Him in our lives. As we see 1000s of athletes and 10,000s of visitors from all the corners of the earth, perhaps we can ask what kind of welcome they are receiving and in turn become more welcoming to our neighbour and to the stranger.

July 2012