Cancellara and church


This weekend Fabian Cancellara (the world’s best time trialist by a long way) lost an opportunity to win the Paris-Roubaix because he didn’t want to work with the other main contenders. Sport is such a distillation of so many of the 7 aspects of play – Progress,  Frivolity, Fate and Power. St Paul used sporting metaphors to explain the Christian path of course, and then there are the songs and traditions of the Welsh Rugby grounds that I have written about in a previous post.

And then there is Self-Actualisation. If you don’t watch cycling you might be inclined to think it’s a sport of individuals, or at least teams, but there is more to it than that. Competitors from different teams have to work together to benefit from each other’s experience and each other’s slipstreams to make the rides more achievable. If they don’t they run the risk of not being in the winning group at the crucial moment for the surge to the finish line.

Cancellara’s didn’t want to ride with the other contenders and instead tried to drive his own strategy. He made his surge on his own very late, it was too late in fact, even though he was brilliant. He couldn’t catch the other contenders and a youngster won.

Christianity is similar – it’s not impossible but it’s tricky to do/be on your own. It’s about community. It’s about being swept along in others’ experience and faith so that you can share each others’ difficulties, you know that you aren’t the only person in the world that this has ever happened to.

While I have a certain amount of sympathy with those who say that they are Christian but don’t see the need to go to Church because it’s so flawed I also think they’ve missed the point. Church is, has to be, a community of the flawed, we are the people who say “Yes, we are flawed, that’s why we’re here” rather than “We’re fine, we’re getting better all the time”, after all, if you are getting better all the time why bother with God at all, you obviously don’t need him. So I suppose we have to accept in a community that says this, that there will be idiots, fiends, nerds and people that really get on your nerves, as well as saints, stars, guides, comics and friends.

In the words of Shed 7  “No one ever said it was gonna be easy” but with some other contenders around you to help shield you from the wind it’s a hell of a lot easier than it is on your own.

Note 1: inspiration for this post came from my husband, who is a true MAMIL, and has managed somehow to suck me into the world of cycling too.

Note 2: If you are thinking of going to church but want to dip your foot into something quietly and anonymously try evensong. It’s quite formal, but it’s a lovely, ancient and meditative service that can really set you up for the week

Note 3: Will someone please tell me when I start to sound like a right on vicar, you know “I was thinking about cheese yesterday and the funny thing about cheese is… it’s sort of like God…”. Come to think of it…

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