WMC: July 2021
From the Manse...
By fine margins and in the cruelest of fashions, the England Mens Football Team narrowly missed out on winning the Euro 2020 Championship. Nevertheless, they still managed to bring football home.
In a dignified and humble way, they restored not only our love for what is so often referred to as the 'beautiful game' but also reflected the values and compassion of our nation that have so often been conspicuous by their absence in recent years.
The whole squad reminded us of what is really important and what really matters. Young men from varied backgrounds and experiences, of differing ethnicities and cultures standing as one, reflecting the glorious make up that is modern England. In them we saw what could and should be and recognised the clarion call for us all to be the best version of ourselves.
Just as on the pitch, so too, off it. Time and time again they have stood up against racism, oppression and injustice. They have spoken with openness, honesty, integrity and feeling. They have told their stories and, in doing so, given a voice to so many who for so long thought that nobody understood or knew them.
They have shown true leadership with their words matching their actions and their support of those in need.
The abuse that so many of them have received in the past and to which they were subjected after the penalty shootout is as blasphemous as it is unacceptable and wrong.
After the final, an M.P. publicly wondered if perhaps a certain player should practise taking penalty kicks more instead of playing politics. Other people have suggested that there is no place for politics in sport.
Perhaps a better question to ask is what has happened to us as a nation when it takes the efforts of a young professional footballer to change a government's mind to ensure children do not go to bed hungry.
The church too has so often been criticised for being involved in politics, of sticking its collective nose where it does not belong. It was the late Helder Câmara, one of the most distinguished Catholic Church leaders of the last century who said; "When I feed the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why so many people are poor they call me a communist."
Our calling, mission, discipleship and witness means that we cannot and must not be silent in the face of wrong-doing, that we are to be a voice for those who find themselves silenced and a light for those who find themselves in darkness.
To the England football team — 'Thank you' and we too stand alongside you against the evils of racism, prejudice and injustice.
With love and God Bless
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