The United Reformed Church Chesham

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August/September 2008 Newsletter

Dear Friends

In August there is a change for many of us from the usual routines, hopefully we will all be refreshed and ready for the new term in September. I wish those of you who are away on holiday over this period a good time.

Whether you are interested in sport or not, probably like most people you will keep an eye on what is happening in the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer. We can all hope that some of the spirit of international co-operation that the Games uphold will have influence on the situation in China, especially in regard to Tibet. China has a long fascinating history, with many achievements, but also violent uprisings and unjust actions towards those who have taken a different line to the main government. There are areas of great poverty in this large varied country. Great Britain has also had much in the past to regret; the anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade last year, showed we need forgiveness as much as anyone. It is always easier to see faults in others. Jesus told us to not to pass judgement on the speck in another's eye, when we have a whole plank in our own!

According to legend, the ancient Olympic Games were founded by Heracles (the Roman Hercules), a son of Zeus. Yet the first Olympic Games for which we still have written records were held in 776 BCE (though it is generally believed that the Games had been going on for many years already). At this Olympic Games, a naked runner, Coroebus (a cook from Elis), won the sole event at the Olympics, the stade - a run of approximately 192 meters (210 yards). The ancient Olympic Games grew and continued to be held every four years for nearly 1200 years. In 393 CE, the Roman emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, abolished the Games because of their pagan influences. Approximately 1500 years later, a young Frenchmen named Pierre de Coubertin began their revival. In 1882 Coubertin stated:
Let us export our oarsmen, our runners, our fencers into other lands. That is the true Free Trade of the future; and the day it is introduced into Europe the cause of Peace will have received a new and strong ally. It inspires me to touch upon another step I now propose and in it I shall ask that the help you have given me hitherto you will extend again, so that together we may attempt to realise, upon a basis suitable to the conditions of our modern life, the splendid and beneficent task of reviving the Olympic Games.

It was not until 1896 that a new International Olympic Committee organised the first modern Olympics in Athens, Greece. It is amazing that despite all the intolerance and conflict in the world these games have developed to be the international gathering of today. May the cause of peace retain this strong ally. At present the athletes are training hard and selections are being made. It is a great achievement to gain a medal for your country, but the experience of being part of such a gathering must also be of great value. It is exciting to think that the games will come to London next time in 2012.

Are we in training? If we want to be truly part of God's Kingdom, we need to prepare. Fortunately there are no trials or targets, by God's grace all are welcome. Jesus in his ministry taught, preached and healed. As we try to follow his example, we need to learn, listen and look for healing that we may know the wholeness of life in Christ. At the end of September we will be holding a short four week course Ė Christianity Unwrapped (details inside). This will be an informal course for those who want to learn more about Christianity or want to brush up on what they already know. Come and join us; no qualifying times or targets required! Why not bring a friend? Letís go for gold as we find out more about going with God.

With love,
We give thanks for the beauty of summer and pray for a time of warmth and refreshment. Lord be with us in all our coming and going this day and every day. Amen