February 2020

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First Thoughts: Canon Ann

Two weeks ago, I went to Bishop Richard’s leaving service in Eastbourne, before he moves to Hereford to be Diocesan Bishop there. It was a service of mixed emotions: sadness that he is leaving Chichester, but also real joy and excitement that he will be leading the people of Hereford in their Christian journey.

In his sermon, Richard reminded us of the story of Derek Redmond which some of you will know. Derek was a very talented British athlete some 30 years ago, winning gold medals, especially for the 400 metres. But at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, disaster struck. He tore his hamstring in the 400 metres semi-final. He collapsed on the track but got up, visibly in pain and distressed but determined to complete the race. His father came onto the track, pushing aside officials trying to stop him, and Derek, with help from his father, managed to complete a full lap of the track, hobbling, with tears streaming down his face, as the crowd gave him a standing ovation. Although he was disqualified and listed as "Did Not Finish" due to his dad helping him, the incident has become a well-known moment in Olympic history.

Watching what happened (which you can do online) gives us such a strong message of this father's love for his child. An image that is so helpful as a reminder that we have God with us always, a God who loves us unconditionally, who we can lean on, just as Derek leaned on his parent.

And that anecdote reminds us too that we can always do more than we think we can. Why? Because we have God – always with us, supporting us, carrying us when we need it. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews uses a running metaphor too, advising this:

Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

So let us remember this over the coming year, which will produce its challenges alongside its joys. Christ is with us every step of the way.

Canon Ann