Olympic Glimpses of the Divine. Choral Evensong, Sunday 12 August 2012, Blackburn Cathedral. “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus’ (Hebs.12. 1-2.) It has been an outstanding 16 days for the country – even for those who don’t much like sport – as we have all basked in the glory of a highly successful Olympic Games in London. All the pundits have tried but failed to find something wrong with the event but it has been stunning for competitors, the onlookers, for the country and for sport in general. One area of difficulty however has been highlighted by the intrusive cameras of an otherwise magnificent BBC broadcast and that is the response of the victors when put under pressure to express their feelings. There is a stammering and a silence and then somewhere will come the words, ‘awesome’ and ‘indescribable’. Now in the circumstances – after a huge physical effort, with 80,000 spectators and either ‘Chariots of Fire’ or ‘The National Anthem’ playing in the background it is little wonder that so many of our successful athletes burst into tears, including the seasoned performers like Sir Chris. Hoy. However, I wonder if there is not something else going on. Beneath all the emotion, the pressure, the hype, is there some other language trying to emerge? When we are put under significant emotional or spiritual pressure our language either tumbles into poetry or dries up. Musicians such as the Amadeus Chamber Choir will know this moment only too well after taking part in a particularly well-executed anthem, the result of which is very moving and brings us – singers and audience – close to tears. That surely is the purpose of Christian Choral Music? These are moments when the world seems to stand still, when the situation takes on sudden depth and stillness in spite of the surrounding rumpus. Is this perhaps a moment when we glimpse something of God’s reality which we cannot properly articulate? Such moments have exercised our theologians for many years. One such, Ian Ramsay who later became Bishop of Durham called them “disclosure situations”. They link what we know, what we can observe and measure, to that which we can only vaguely comprehend – that which is beyond our comfort zone. So in the athletics arena, God may be working – a justifieable observation for a God who is everywhere. And it is not alien territory for God either. We have noticed the number of crosses and prayers and genuflexions from the competitors. Perhaps the tears of joy are another way in which a good God gets out and makes himself known. It is after all consistent with scripture down the ages. We might think of Elijah and the still small voice which propelled him into a very different and daring action or Moses, moved to silence at the Burning Bush. In our second lesson today, the author of the letter to the Hebrews uses the athletics imagery to underline the discipline necessary in the Christian life. I don’t believe in a God who reserves all the rewards until last. We all need encouragement along the way and this might just be the encouragement we, as a fairly godless nation, need. Amen.