A Word from the Pastor
Friends, The Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is rapidly approaching. The opening ceremony is to be televised on NBC on August 5th in the evening. If previous Olympics are any indication, it will be a night filled with pageantry as athletes from all around the world come together in peace to compete for bronze, silver, and gold medals. The highlight of this opening ceremony is the lighting of the large Olympic torch that will burn throughout the games.
It is done by a torchbearer who carries a smaller torch that carries a flame that has traveled from Olympia Greece, which is the birthplace of the Ancient Olympic Games. The flame that will arrive in Rio was lit on April 21st and began it’s journey through Greece, then the torch was handed over to the Rio Olympic organizers on April 27th and began it’s tour through Brazil, starting in the capital city of Brasilia on May 3rd. By August 5th, it will have traveled, in Brazil alone, over 12,500 miles on land and nearly 10,000 miles in the air. It will visit 83 cities which includes 26 state capitals and will travel through 500 other villages. There will have been around 12,000 torch bearers on this journey. That’s a lot of territory to cover in just 95 days.
On June 8, 1996, as my family and I were traveling to the West Ohio Annual Conference from southwest Ohio, we exited I-75 to go through Findlay, Ohio. The traffic was bumper to bumper and we were at a stand still. What we didn’t know was that the Olympic torch relay was passing through town. Dolores and I became excited and dragged our boys out of the car to see this historical event. We were in the front row and happened to be where the exchange took place. They didn’t pass the torch, they passed the flame. The torch was an instrument to carry the flame. We also got to see the torch carried by the previous bearer. It was a great experience for Dolores and I, even though our boys, 8 and 4 years-old, didn’t understand. As we get older, we understand the significance of events like that.
Jesus told us that we are the light of the world and we are to let our light shine in this world so that people might see our good works and give glory to our Heavenly Father. So as Christians, we are torchbearers. Some of us have been running a long time. Others of us have been running for a relatively short time. Eventually, our torch will run out of fuel, but to whom are we passing the flame for Christ? Who have we led to Christ to carry on the message? Who have we mentored to follow after us? Are we faithfully bearing the torch?
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (MSG), “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”
Are you running hard for the finish line? Are you giving it everything you’ve got? There is no letting up until you reach the finish line and if your reading this, you haven’t yet. Run hard and prepare to pass your torch like Moses did to Joshua, Elijah did to Elisha, Jesus did to the disciples, and Paul did to Timothy.
Your fellow torchbearer,