It’s been a day of contrasts that I reflect on as I type up these musings. Currently as I sit with my computer, I have in the background the latest match playing in the IPL (Indian Premier League cricket T20 tournament), with Kolkata Knight Riders competing with King’s Eleven Punjab. In terms of financial backing, this is the largest limited overs cricket tournament in the world, with a fanbase of hundreds on millions in India alone, and where the best players in the world are richly rewarded for competing. Contrast the scale of all that, with a gathering I attended at lunchtime. For within the unglamorous setting of a Wetherspoon pub, the AGM for the Manchester Diocesan Cricket Club took place with 5 attendees (one of whom is about to retire). Despite a rich heritage (The Church Times Cup founded in 1951 is the oldest recorded limited overs tournament in the world), an underresourced, untalented and overaged group of men tried to plan for our forthcoming season. And yet… our love for the game remains strong and undaunted. Nothing can beat the satisfying thwack of willow on leather, wherever the setting, and (despite trepidation on its impact on my back!) I look forward to another season.
It is a joy to find something or someone that unites and brings together a group. At morning prayer this morning, the 6 of us found strength and support when sharing our declaration of faith. Indeed, yesterday when attending a conference in the grand setting of the National Football Museum, we plotted the numbers of Christian communities and charities which exist within the city. Some were flourishing, some simply frugally ministering faithfully, and it could have been all too easy to focus on our differences, but there, all were united with a love for Jesus which underpinned their (differing) approaches to mission. As the psalmist observed; “How good it is when brothers (and sisters!) dwell together in unity.” both then and today!
May we, as we journey through Lent, be aware of the hope and identity we all share in Jesus, and perhaps look for opportunities where through being together, we can be built up as well.