When you’re the champions, where do you go next?
It is still possible to switch on the television on a Sunday – and find a church service being broadcast.
‘Still possible’ because there’s been so much talk recently about the down-grading of religion as part of public life – though the BBC claims to have increased hours given to religious broadcasting.
Whatever, it was with some surprise that I switched on early this past Sunday and saw a roomful of people all with their arms raised heavenwards – just like a crowd of worshippers in a moment of ecstatic praise.
Which is exactly what it was.........
But no, not an early morning Christian service but a re-run of the moment when Drogba slotted the final penalty and Chelsea supporters knew that their club had won the European Champions’ League.
What a moment! And the news item cut from there to a still of David Cameron seeing the same goal in the company of other G8 leaders. Arms similarly raised – all smiles. Second to the right from our PM was the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. She wasn’t smiling........
So there we are. Chelsea are champions of Europe. Not exactly an English or even a British team (I think only 8 of their 24 strong squad were born in the UK) but something we can have reasonable cause to celebrate.
There’s a question that strikes me, though.
What next? I mean, for a club side, where can they go from here?
At the end of each national league season there’s always the objective of getting to play in the international champions’ league. But once you’ve won that......? Just repeat the same thing?
That’s hard. Maintaining the winning form. Remember Nottingham Forest – 1979 and 1980? Amazing – but now?
For Christians the excitement they have in praising God – especially when he does something amazing – never needs to diminish. There is always more.
Yes, I know that too many Christians, whether individually or in congregations, don’t seem too excited about life. The average football supporter puts the average church-goer to shame when it comes to enthusiasm.** But that has nothing to do with God, especially as seen in the person of Jesus.
Jesus is the same – yesterday, today and forever. What he has done – in bringing us forgiveness, healing, hope and all the other benefits we can enjoy – is as available now as it ever was. And there’s always more to discover about his grace and power.
The good thing is that many, many people around the world do know and have experienced the truth of this – that there is no circumstance too difficult for Jesus to work in and change for the better. Not one. And the more we discover the truth of that, the more our expectation grows.
Next season? More challenges, greater victories, more cause for celebration. Always more.
Champions’ cup, Chelsea? Enjoy it while you’ve got it.
[Nigel O’Dwyer lives and worships in Worthing]
** By way of contrast, try to get to the Big Church Day Out – June 2 and 3, Wiston House, Steyning. Around 25,000 Christians (mainly local) celebrating God’s goodness together. www.bigchurchdayout.com