Running the Race

St Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

I am writing this letter as the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro draw to a close.

As they began on 5th August I have to admit to having a heavy heart at the prospect of seeing virtually nothing else on our TV screens! But, as the days went by, I became increasingly drawn into the wide range of sports which took place and even stayed up well beyond my normal bedtime to see Andy Murray secure his gold medal in the men’s tennis finals.

Leaving aside the political and economic arguments over the wisdom of the venue and the ethics of spending such vast amounts of money in the midst of great poverty, there is something incredibly uplifting and satisfying to be gained from witnessing such talented people indulging in a wide variety of sports and being in healthy competition with one another.

I suspect I will not be the only clergy person taking this opportunity to write in their parish magazines about St Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and the Philippians where we are reminded that we are ‘runners in the race’ and that we should ‘press on towards the goal’ – but that the prize we run for is an imperishable one.

Well, my running days (such as they were) came to an end many years ago – but I hope I still ‘press on’ and have not lost sight of the finishing line…

When the Great North Run takes place on 11th September all sorts and conditions of folk will be participating. They will go at varying paces but their unvarying aim – the prize – is the finishing line.

However ‘sporty’ (or not) you may be, the image of the finishing line can be useful. We do not need to be aiming for a gold medal – or even a silver or a bronze – but we do need to recognize that, along with all our companions in faith, we are, through the love of Christ, assured of a reward which is greater than any earthly prize.

And we do need to keep up our training! For the Christian that comes from the fellowship of ‘running’ alongside other Christians, from keeping regularly in contact with God our ‘trainer’ through prayer and constantly honing our skills by reference to the ‘guidelines’ laid down in the scriptures.

Maybe you have not enjoyed the Olympics; maybe you are looking forward to other competitions – the ‘Great British Bake Off’ or ‘Strictly Come Dancing’…

Do notice, though, that each of these also offers a group of people who are aiming for the prize.

As you (and I) continue to ‘run the race’ may we have always before us the prize which is no less than life in all its fullness through the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

With every blessing,
Paul.

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