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Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Prayers for the Olympics

This week the Olympic Games begin in London. It is estimated that about 205 countries will be represented. 45 of them are in this diocese in Europe, so we have no official favourite!

There are criticisms of the Games, of course. There is concern about the huge amount of money that is being spent, money that is in short supply these days, and which might be spent on bettering the lives of the world’s impoverished. Some, in London, are concerned about the disruption to normal life. (We who have offices in Central London have been asked to consider working from home as much as possible during the Games). However the Bishop of Barking, the Rt Revd David Hawkins, in whose area the Olympic Park is located, has said, “Sport, culture and religion lift spirits and give value, significance and inspiration to all of our lives. The Olympic movement gives expression to each of these, and it sits well with the values of the Church”.  

The Mission Society, USPG, in its prayer diary entry for this week also affirms that the games embody a number of values that people of faith can welcome and embrace. For example there is the ancient tradition of the “Olympic truce”, and the charitable actions shown from time to time by athletes towards competitors from poorer countriesThe USPG prayer diary also notes that the extreme dedication with which athletes pursue their training and competing can teach us something about the dedication needed for the outworking of our faith! So in the days of the games, we pray for peace throughout the world in the spirit of the Olympic truce; for an end to poverty and injustice; and for the Churches that we may be inspired with new dedication. 

Here is a prayer from the USPG for the Games:

In our celebration of the Olympic Games
May we be inspired to train for action
To run the race with hope,
And to hit the mark of truth
Amid the interlocking rings of your all embracing love.  Amen.

I have adapted this one, from the Church of England’s website:

Eternal God, Giver of joy and source of all strength,
we pray for those who participate in the London Olympic and Paralympic games.
For the competitors and their loved ones, For the many thousands who support them,
and for those who welcome many people from many nations.
In a world where many are rejected and abused, 
we pray for a spirit of tolerance and acceptance, of humility and respect and for the health and safety of all.
May we at the last be led towards the love of Christ who is more than gold, today and forever.  

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