That sporting festival known as the Olympic Games is due to start in the coming week. After a year’s delay, the sportsmen and women are gathering in Tokyo to prepare to amaze and thrill us all in displays of winning and losing, of highs and lows, of intimacy and spectacle, but in empty stadiums and arenas, the only audience being present through the modern technology of TV and on line. How exciting will the 100 metre sprint be without the screaming background of supporters and commentators urging them on. Will any race be quite the same?
Maybe it is unfair to contrast such a major world occasion with the small-time local event called church-going. But if we do, the experience of saying goodbye to loved ones, weddings without receptions, worship without singing, has been the experience of church goers over the past eighteen months and many have struggled.
While technology has helped and for some been a life saver, there is nothing like a live event, with atmosphere and ambience, breathing life into whatever we do. The Bible has God breathing life into creation, the same breath as whisper, urging God’s prophets on, and the pentecostal inspiration for the church. And some people feel that’s what’s missing when we rely on Zoom, YouTube, the internet and websites. But even there, God can overcome our reluctance and it can become a force of good, of connection, and, ultimately, of God.
And possibly, as before, in the Olympics, we will witness the world coming together as it always does; and perhaps, too, the spirit of the Games will lift us up and inspire us all.