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Sarah Richardson’s article in the July Diary June 24, 2021

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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As I write this, we are heading into a whole month of European football, with Wimbledon joining in at the end (they both end on 11th July), and the Olympics in Japan starting soon after. Hopefully, this will be a feast of sport for those who enjoy seeing the dedication and effort of the athletes involved, and perhaps a chance for people to continue to meet safely together to enjoy the competition in the company of others.

Although I won’t be watching the football, my husband certainly will. As we talked about the Euros last night, I realised that in England we seem to have a cycle of blind optimism about our football team, where we talk up the latest young star, and some of us book tickets or flights to the later stages of the competition in the hope that our team will make it that far.

Those of us old enough to remember the David Baddiel and Frank Skinner singing about ‘thirty years of hurt’ will not feel any younger to realise that it is now fifty-five years of hurt. There seems to be a collective pit-of-the-stomach disappointment when the match that signals our exit from the competition comes to a close. Part of the joy of following a team (or playing in one) comes from the rarity of those big wins, those matches that only happen annually or more rarely. Hours, days, months of training all culminating in just minutes of performance. And then a long wait for the next chance. Hope gone in just a moment.

But the hope that is offered by faith in God is neither blind optimism, nor fatalistic misery, but a pervasive peace that God’s steadfastness is something offered freely to all of us. Not in four yearly cycles, so that if we miss the boat we have to wait, but for anyone at any time. Of the twenty-four teams in the Euros, twenty-three will go home disappointed to have not clinched the title (although they may well have surprised themselves with how far they got in the competition), but the kingdom of God is not a zero sum game. There is hope for everyone, a hope that does not lead to disappointment (‘we were so close!’) but to joy. A hope that is to be shared and multiplied so that no one leaves empty-handed.

I hope that whether you’re an avid football fan, a Wimbledon watcher, or someone who will be avoiding the TV entirely for the month, July brings you the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine, to spend time with those you love, and perhaps to celebrate a surprising victory.

Revd Sarah Richardson

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