I heard this phrase on the radio this week and like many others I do feel the loss of watching this amazing sporting event on TV over the last nineteen days! Congratulations must go to all those who took part and of course those who won medals – especially to team GB at Rio 2016 – but is there a deeper story?
On their flight back home apparently one reporter said that the film about Eric Liddell, ‘Chariots of Fire’ was on a loop on the plane. Why might that be? Perhaps because of the wonderful sense of fulfilment we get when we sense our bodies are part of something greater. Liddell himself said that ‘when I run I feel His pleasure.’ Knowing the pleasure of God is a fascinating concept, indeed, many of the competitors acknowledged their allegiance to their maker. Usain Bolt is a strong Christian, Brazilian footballer Neymar is ‘100% Jesus’ and the US women’s 4 x 400 relay team prayed together when they won gold.
So what do we take from all this? Is it that when we see athletes at the top of their game we see something of the image of God and His joy and pleasure? Maybe the phrase, so often used but no less apt, that sums this up is by the Church Father Irenaeus who said: ‘The glory of God is a person fully alive’.
By the Revd Bruce Goodwin, Chaplain, University of Gloucestershire.