Thought for the Day - Reverend David Wells - 03/08/2012
When I’m sitting in the Multi-faith Centre at the Athlete’s Village I can look around at the diverse representation of humanity I am with. We are men and women, younger and older from almost every continent. Some are very fit world class athletes and others of us, me included, are slightly over-weight middle-aged has-beens. Some believe in God as one distinct person, others believe in multiple deities, while others consider divinity to be evidenced within us all.
In this context I have the honour of serving Canadian athletes and team officials as well as the broader Village community. These are real people, many of whom are youth and young adults, addressing real life. Life doesn’t take a holiday just because you are at the Olympics. Injuries, disappointment, relational issues and bereavement are all part of the mix over these 17 days.
I had the sobering privilege - in a previous Games - to be invited into a grieving athlete’s life as they wrestled with the decision of whether to stay and compete or to go home after their father’s sudden death. As they were in a pair’s competition it also affected the competitive opportunity for their partner. Having this memory of supporting these two athletes through their entire competition is a meaningful reminder even today of why I do what I do.
These real life challenges are no respecter of one’s faith community or ethnicity. As a chaplain serving a diverse Olympic team I am deeply committed to honouring and showing respect to each person’s choices regarding their journey of faith. Within a multi-faith environment I seek to serve others and to learn about the meaning of their faith to their daily life. Here in London my friends in the Faith Centre have helped me grow in my knowledge and appreciation of everything from Ramadan to kosher food. You never stop learning!
And yet I am convinced that knowing rootedness in my own faith life is critical to my ability to serve effectively in the Village. As a follower of Christ in the Faith Centre and in my daily life I have an obligation to be an authentic, consistent representative of him.
But the second conviction does not dilute the strength of the first. In fact I am honestly convinced that if all believers shared these two commitments; to show genuine honour and service of persons of other faiths and to live as authentic representatives of their own faith that the quality of life locally and globally would be radically altered for the good.
It is crucial that within our individual contexts we learn to do the hard work of engaging our diversity with both respect for others and a passionate commitment to who we are.
Available since: Fri 3 Aug 2012
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