Tonight as the Rugby World Cup kicks off in Japan, many of us will be reaching for our TV remotes, or with the digital revolution taking place, our smartphone. I’m just hoping our internet speed holds up to livestream. Too bad that fibre will only be connected in Lyndhurst Street in November.
Rugby is a game that requires discipline, teamwork and perseverance. Since the World Cup comes around only once every 4 years, it provides the ultimate test for the current generation of players. True strength requires mental focus as well as physical training. The All Blacks know all too well that confidence and trust in your team-mates is important, but that overconfidence can breed mistakes.
Last week I took a team from St Peter’s Church in Granity to a training event at St Arnaud. I loved seeing the way in which the team supported one another as we each stepped up to new challenges. The focus of the training was not so much on what we know, but on how we live. Or to put it another way, how we put into practice the life lessons that Jesus shared with his disciples. Of course we weren’t training on the sports field, but it struck me that the same qualities of trust, discipline, teamwork and perseverance are important in learning to live the Christian way. Walking the way of Jesus is best done as a team sport – with others to cheer us on, to challenge us to go further, and to pick us up when we stumble.
As I tune in to the rugby this weekend, I’ll be watching from the comfort of my couch, and with a glass in my hand. But Christian faith has never been an armchair sport. We don’t have the challenge of a world cup to raise our game for, but there will be situations in our family, our neighbourhood or our workplace which test us, and which bring out the best (or the worst) in us. One of the great benefits of belonging to a church is that is provides teammates to help us to live life well. Church shouldn’t be a case of one person up the front whilst the others sit back, but rather a group who are journeying together on the adventure God has for us.
This post appeared first as a Church and Community Article in the Westport News, Friday 20th September 2019.
NZ Maori identify themselves by their local mountain and river, but I grew up in the south of England where the land is flat, and our local river - the Blackwater - lived up to its name as being one of the most polluted streams in the UK. So now I'm claiming the Buller River, or in te reo Maori the Kawatiri, as my own.