In recent weeks our television screens have been full of football, football and more football, from Premier League matches, the F.A. Cup, Championship play offs, the European Nations Cup, and last but by no means least the Ladies World Cup. Now from my very first sentence, you may, or maybe not, surmise that I am not particularly a football fanatic, in fact I would go as far as saying I’m not really a fan at all. I don’t understand the rules, purely because I have no interest and have therefore never taken time out to learn them. However for the past forty years I have been married to a football supporter, a ‘Saints’ man through and through.
Having been born and bought up in the city of Southampton there can be no other team for him. A programme seller from the age of 11, (yes you really could be back in the Jurassic era), a regular attender at home matches and somebody who would and will not miss watching his team if they are televised. Attending home matches was so much part of his life that when, at Teacher Training College in Brighton, back in the late 1970’s, my dear husband (my boyfriend back then) would travel back to Southampton, on his Lambretta, for every single home match and he has continued to be a season ticket holder for most of his life wherever we have lived. Now there’s commitment for you! Not only that, he has also indoctrinated our children and our grandchildren into the ways of the Saints! Finley our grandson has just become a season ticket holder at the age of 7, such love and dedication.
I must admit that over the years Don’s outlook on football has become much more philosophical and although of course he wants his team to win, and he does get worked up when a match isn’t going the Saints way, he will soon calm down and see that it is only a game of football and that there are many more important things in life. I am sorry if I offend but Football is only a game, life and what we do with it is so much more important. In the past when I have asked Don what he gets from going to see his team play, he has told me that it is a tremendous buzz to be on the terraces supporting your team, there is such a feeling of excitement, camaraderie and togetherness. He has even likened it to what he thinks I must feel about my faith in Jesus and sharing that in worship with others. It isn’t a comparison that I would have made myself but when I reflected on his words they gave me a lot of ‘food for thought’ and I actually felt there was a lot I could learn from them. If only we could bottle the commitment, enthusiasm, love and dedication that football fans have for the game and use it to and for the glory of God, how amazing that would be. I do wonder how many people who come to church on a Sunday morning, come with enthusiasm and love, come expecting to encounter God in worship.
I wonder too if they come knowing that although things haven’t all gone to plan during the week, perhaps they have thought, said or done things they ought not to have, come nevertheless knowing that in all humility if they ask God’s forgiveness they will truly receive it, for our God is an ever loving, all-encompassing God who forgives all who ask. I know that we can’t always expect to get an exciting buzz, but then neither can the football fans when things don’t go to plan for them. However unlike them, who go away empty and deflated, if our hearts and minds are open to it, we can go away filled with God’s blessing and love filled with expectation. It can’t hurt to give it a try – Can it?
The Rector, Reverend Sarah Corry, can be contacted on 01474 852265, or use our contact form.
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