Saturday Sermon – Lancashire Telegraph, 5 August 2017
I have just bought two tickets for the first Blackburn Rovers’ match of the season, against Doncaster. Years ago I had a season-ticket, when we were in the Premiership, but these days buying tickets for the Rovers is a triumph of hope over experience. However I suspect there is an incurable optimist lurking inside football fans of every team at the start of a new season: this year, things will improve, this year we will get promotion, this year we will win the trophy. But, as all teams know, things don’t always work out as planned, and seasons that begin with great hopes often end in heart-wrenching disappointment.
Besides being a (not very good) football fan, I am also a (not very good) Christian. The start of a new football season raises the question, is my Christian faith also a triumph of hope over experience, a blind faith that the world will improve, despite the suffering, the violence and the selfishness all too evident around us? We live in an age of uncertainty, with dangers of war and terrorism, hopes and fears about the impact of Brexit, and our growing awareness of the fragility of our planet.
However, in spite of the problems of the world, Christians have a sure and certain hope for the future that is more than blind optimism. Christians have a confident hope in the future because God has turned desolation into joy by raising Jesus Christ from the dead, and one day the whole creation will be healed when God’s kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven. Human beings are not simply collections of chemicals that have evolved by chance, but rather are created by a loving God in his own image. Life has meaning – we are invited to be God’s friends and to work with God for the healing of his world.
When a season is going badly every Saturday football fans have a choice, to stay at home and moan, or to turn out and try to get behind the team and lift their spirits. And when the world is in a mess every Sunday we have a choice, either to stay at home and moan, or to turn out to worship, and strengthened by the Spirit of God to be bringers of hope to our communities.
Now where did I put those tickets?