Hayes Free Church United Reformed

All Are Welcome

Dear Friends,


As I write this, I can’t quite believe that we’ve reached the summer – we’re past the longest day, its warm and sunny (at least for now), and the garden is lush and green.  With only a few weeks left of the school term and exams over, things are beginning to wind down, and prepare for the holidays.  At the same time, the country, and the world, are in the middle of a summer of sport.  European Football, the Cricket World Cup, Wimbledon, and, at the end of July, the Olympic Games. If you’re a sports fan, there is lots to look forward to.


In thinking about the July Parade Service and Messy Church, I’ve been looking up what the Bible says about sport.  Paul seems to write a lot about it in his letters – not about football, or cricket, or tennis, but about running the race – running the race of life.  He talks in Hebrews 12, about running with perseverance, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.  In 1 Corinthians about aiming for the prize, and, in 2 Timothy 4:7:


“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 


What a profound statement from Paul, as he writes to Timothy from prison, in what is traditionally thought to be the last letter he wrote before his death.  This verse sums up what, I’m sure, we’d all like to say at the end of our lives – that we have run the race of life well, with Jesus by our side, and achieved all that God, through the Holy Spirit, has asked us to do.  


On 9th July we will be saying goodbye to Martin Nunn – a man who ran his race well, and who, we trust, has now received his prize, and been welcomed into God’s heavenly kingdom.  He lived his life with God, and along the way, inspired and encouraged so many in their faith – through his teaching, his music, and his everyday life.  A special man, who it was a privilege to know. 


The race of life is a marathon, not a sprint – sometimes, I think it’s probably more like a steeplechase, with hurdles and water jumps and other challenges coming when we least expect them. And just like an athlete, we need to prepare ourselves for the race, wearing the right clothing (the Armour of God), following the advice of our coach (Jesus) and training hard, by reading the Bible and praying. If we do that well, as Martin did, we might be called on to train others, to share our wisdom and guidance with them, until they are ready to step out on their own, to run their own race.  


As we watch the Olympics and Paralympics this summer, we will see athletes from all around the world competing for the ultimate prize – for the Gold Medal, the title, and if they are lucky, perhaps a world or championship record or personal best.  There can only be one winner, one champion.  For us, though, in our race, we are all winners, all champions, and the prize is within our grasp – we are competing not against each other, but against ourselves.


And so, may we run our race with confidence, focusing on the prize, listening to God, and keeping our eyes and ears open for the call to reach out to one another, to help each other up, to ease tired legs and to offer words of encouragement, as we journey together, in Jesus’ name.


With love and blessings,