Faith at Work XXV

August 2006

I suppose the Football World Cup and Grand Slam Tennis at Wimbledon may seem a long time ago when you come to read this article, but they are in full flow as I write.  Both events require a lot of hard work behind the scenes, not least on the surfaces that provide the basis for the two sports.  If they are not immaculate and stand up well under players at the peak of their skill and fitness, then the resulting games will be the poorer.  Yet, it is assumed that the pitches and the courts will be in tip-top condition ready for the event.  Generally, of course, they are and the ground staff are to be commended for their diligence in the months or years of painstaking effort getting the ground ready for the competitions.

This year at Wimbledon, one of the commentators said at the beginning of the fortnight that the courts were smooth and firm like a snooker table, but unlike the tables that are laid up the night before, these surfaces have been in preparation for weeks.  They seemed to be playing harder this year and this was attributed to the ryegrass that has been included in the variety mix.  The grass surface at Wimbledon has a reputation second to none: players like Roger Federer shine on its surface because it plays faster than the others; it rewards those who are courageous and go for their shots, especially at the net.  It is arguably the title that players are most determined to win … and all because of the grass.

This is exactly the concern of one of the companies at the Science Park where I act as chaplain, to ensure that the highest possible quality of playing surfaces is achieved.  It is good to hear from them how much effort goes into providing the ultimate environment underfoot for athletes to be inspired and shine at their sport.  The grass is a feature that is quietly doing its work even if it goes unnoticed in the public eye.  As soon as there is a uneven bounce or the player slips, the grass is blamed – if all goes well and the player can exploit the surface as would be predicted, usually it is the player rather than the grass that is praised.  Yet there is just as much to be said for a good playing surface as there is for good player preparation.

It reminds me of the opportunity that Jesus gave to his foremost disciples Peter, John and James to value the importance of prayer in underpinning their life together.  It occurred when he took them up the mountain to pray, a place where they could be still, undisturbed and thoughtful about the importance of prayer in their lives [see Luke 9:28-36].  While Jesus was praying, his face changed and his clothes became dazzling white; he was transfigured.  A similar thing happens when match point is converted on the grass at Wimbledon on final’s day; the winner’s face is transformed – all the hard work has been worth it.  We remember this particularly on 6th August, the feast day of the transfiguration of our Lord.  So let us pray that we too may be transformed:

Holy God,
we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ:
may we reflect his life in word and deed,
that all may know his power to change and save.

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2006-07-01

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