One of the few things I was known for by my headmaster at school was my ability to avoid the ball when it came to football. My school sporting career was not especially, or to be honest in any way, marked by success.
As we emerged from the last of the lockdowns, and the realisation that I needed to do something about my fitness, (or more precisely the lack of it), to my surprise I found myself returning to the gym. 40 years since my last encounter, there are thankfully no longer any ropes to climb, and to my great surprise, I am finding it enjoyable.
This enjoyment is partly the simple relief of being a little physically fitter, but it has been much more than just this. It is a well-being that goes beyond the physical, to the mental and the spiritual. It’s the rhythm of exercise, the taking of time, connecting to the whole of the person that God has made, fashioned from the dust of the earth (Genesis 1) and into which life has been breathed (Ezekiel 37; John 14).
I know I am ‘late to the party’ on this, but I needed not to be told, but to discover this for myself. I am pleased I have. Like all good news, it needs to be shared, which is why this coming National Sports Sunday, 14 May, sponsored by among others our own Sportily, is such an opportunity, recognising the deep connection between sports, well-being and the fullness of life we are called to know and delight in, in Jesus Christ.
Many of our families and young people know this already of course, at least in part. 25 million people participate in a sports community each week which is why as a diocese we are rightly investing in ministry here, looking at where God’s people are and joining in, playing our part, with others in building community and making connections.
These two things are of course in the end simply part of who we are as a Church, our vocation and calling. As a Church, we have been building community in this land for the last 1500 years, integrated into the natural networks by which we all live our lives. More than this, we have at the same time been inviting all who we encounter to discover more, to grow into the fullness of life that delights in who we are in community with each other and with God our creator.
My invitation to you for this Sunday is therefore, first to find out some more about Sports Ministry and Sportily, and to hold their work and ministry in your prayers. Then I encourage you to look around at your community and see the connections that we might make, as together, we seek to share more of the life we have been given, made in the image of our creator.