Related to this section ...

Jun 10 Archdeacon Kevin: all eyes on the game

If like me you are a football fan you may well be reading this edition of The News with one eye firmly on the TV screen. If the very thought of the FIFA World Cup 2010 makes you yawn with boredom, then you are probably hoping that football won’t get a mention. Oh dear! I’m afraid that it will. But keep reading….please! Whether we like it or not the World Cup is one of the biggest things happening on the planet at the moment and its effects will outlast the tournament itself.

The economists estimate that the World Cup will pump around £6 billion into the South African economy and create around 425,000 new jobs. New infrastructure is being built that will serve the local population for years to come. Half a million international visitors will give an unprecedented boost to the South African tourist industry. And in the words of President Jacob Zuma the World Cup “is an important milestone in the regeneration of the continentâ€?. What a turn around for a nation that only twenty years ago was excluded from most international sporting competitions. For four weeks in June and July 2010 South Africa will be at the centre of the world’s attention. And all our eyes will be on ….a game! What will unite the attention of countless millions of people will be nothing more substantial than a transient, quickly forgotten series of games. As someone has put it “twenty two people in desperate need of a rest, watched by twenty two million people in desperate need of some exerciseâ€?! For some that is good reason to ring their hands in despair. Are there not much more important causes around which the world could unite? Undoubtedly there are. But maybe as we watch together, as some travel together, as people stand on African soil for the first time and together touch the healing scars of a once broken nation we can find the solidarity to tackle the poverty that still ravages the continent. Maybe as we visit the rainbow nation (even from our armchairs), we can find fresh inspiration to work across social and cultural divides to not only enjoy a beautiful game but to create a more beautiful world. And maybe we can learn again that coming together to play is in itself a worthy thing to do. That the full orbed life that God has given us is to include play as well as work, laughter as well as serious endeavour and the deep pleasures of human friendship. Whether, like Bill Shankly, you deem soccer to be “more important than life and deathâ€? or you just can’t wait for the final whistle to blow on 11 July, let’s pray that God will use the occasion of the FIFA World Cup 2010 for wide and lasting good, in the host nation and beyond. Let’s pray for our sisters and brothers in the churches of South Africa and for their witness to competitors and spectators. And lets look forward to that day when something more than a game will unite us. When “a great multitude that no one can count, from every nation, tribe, people and language“ will stand before JESUS. And the roar from the crowds will be to the One who sits upon the throne of the universe. “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!â€? Kevin Roberts Archdeacon of Carlisle

  • Cumbrian congregations prepare to mark Remembrance Day Posted Tuesday 6 November ...