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As I write this we are at the peak of our summer activities, though active is hardly the word I would use for myself. True my wife and I still play table tennis and bowls with the Firtree Club in Reading, but it is now at a very genteel pace. Wimbledon and Henley are nearly over and the English footballers are doing fantastically well. The question on the radio this morning asked, is it right to pray for the football team to win?
The answer of course is that God does not take sides and whereas it is very understandable that we want our home team to do well we can only pray for a fair and just referee and a good game. It is the same with so many things that we would like to have happen, God is not on anyone’s side but is on everyone’s side in seeking justice, healing and love.
I am old enough to remember the last world war and the beginning of the National Health Service, for which I and my family have had so many reasons to be grateful. I spent two years of my life in the Royal Air Force and had the privilege of being able to fly until my health let me down. Both have anniversaries this year, both have their great stories of making the world a safer and better place.
This November we recall one of the most important anniversaries, the end of the first world war one hundred years ago. So often God is seen as on the side of the winners but in that conflict there were no ‘winners’ as such, only the enormous sadness at our human folly. During the second world war, which I do remember, I lived near a prisoner of war camp and met them working in the fields. I recall Richard crying as we bombed his home in Cologne. I heard him singing Silent Night and I knew that God was with him too.
Individuals and nations make war, struggle for power and domination, but God is not on their side because he loves their enemies as well, the ordinary people, like us.
The voice of the church has always been important in the welfare of the nation and those who say the church should not be involved in politics are usually the politicians. But God will surely be with them if they make decisions that are right, just, peace-making and inclusive. Each of the anniversaries have one thing in common – they were looking to a better and safer world, peace, healing and friendship. The great dream was a united and caring society, at peace with one another and sharing a justice which dealt with everyone the same. The voice of self-seeking, prejudice, exclusion, bullying, is not the voice to listen to.
It is true that God does not support any team, but a good game is very satisfying
United Reform Church
Chair of Caversham Bridge Newspaper