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Winter Olympics

Mike Claridge - 22nd January 2014

Roundabout - February 2014

St Andrew's, West Bromwich

We’ve had an easy winter so far! Not a sign of any snow, but it’s still early days. February and March are often the coldest months of the year so we can’t drop our guard just yet. I can guarantee that we will be seeing plenty of snow this month though, on the television anyway, as this month sees the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

It only seems a few months since the fantastic events of London 2012. For us here in Great Britain the Winter Olympics never ha the same profile as the “summer games’. Frankly we aren’t very good at them. Apart from an occasional success; figure skating, curling and, last time round, Amy Williams in the skeleton bob, our medal haul tends to be a bit meagre. We make our mark though in others ays. Who can forget Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards leaping into the skies in the ski jump all those years ago. His legend status in British Winter Olympic history was guaranteed. It helped of course that he was a true British eccentric in more ways than one.

It isn’t only Britons who make their mark, not in medal success, but in just having a go. Many of you will have seen the film “Cool Runnings”. It’s a great comedy but very much based on true life as it’s about the exploits of the Jamaican bobsleigh team in the 1988 Winter Olympics. They’re back this year after a twelve year break, so maybe a “Cool Runnings 2” will be in production soon.

Another person having a go without a real chance of a medal is the classical violinist Vanessa Mae. She’s achieved the qualifying times to represent Thailand in skiing. Thailand is her father’s place of birth and she’ll be competing for that country under her family name of Vanessa Vanakorn.

These days, with the profile of so many sports boosted by live television coverage across so many channels, it’s easy to focus just on success. Even in football the TV programme schedulers seem to have chosen FA Cup games with top teams for live transmission, instead of focussing on some of the underdogs and possible “giant killing” deeds however unlikely they may seem.

There used to be the old adage “It’s the taking part that counts”. That is still so true although sadly neglected. It doesn’t only apply to sport though, it can be applied to all aspects of life. How many of us have thought about having a go at this or that, but haven’t done so because we’re frightened of failing or, worse still we may feel, of making a fool of ourselves?

When we look at the Gospels we see Jesus calling the most unlikely people to do the most unlikely things. He doesn’t choose people who are known for intellect or leadership skills. Instead he choses ordinary people form ordinary trades, others from groups despised by many, still more who were looked down on as sinners by the so called “decent” people of the day. Together they “had a go” and together they were able to do remarkable things.

Maybe there’s something that you think you could offer our ministry here at St Andrew’s? A bit of visiting, a bit of giving hospitality in church, leading intercessions, joining the reading rota or even enquiring about a vocation in ordained ministry.

In sport or in wider life never be afraid of having a go. It’s the taking part that counts.