Vicar’s Reflection: Ordinary Sunday 6, 11th February 2018
Images from the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games are filling our screens now. The modern Olympic Games were inspired by the ancient Olympic Games, which were held in Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. St Paul would have been very familiar with the Greek and Roman ideals of sporting excellence as he used sporting imagery several times in his writings. Second only to the ancient games held in Olympia, were the Isthmian Games held in Corinth, the city to which Paul wrote several letters. Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, leading to the first modern Games in Athens in 1896. The modern Games are a blending of the ancient Greek ideals of physical excellence and beauty and modern concepts of fair-play, teamwork and self-discipline. The ancient games under Roman influence featured self-promotion (boasting), brutality, extreme violence and mass deaths, all presented as a great spectacle for the entertainment of the masses. This led in later centuries to Christian opposition to sports. A great revival in sports began when the Christian headmasters of several British Public Schools introduced the modern ideals of fair-play, teamwork and self-control into sports. Sports have been shaped by Christian ideals and at their best, offer a model of Christian behaviour. Leading a Christian life means both accepting the gift of salvation in Christ while striving for excellence in all areas of life as a grateful response.