Connecting with Culture
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But this year’s London Marathon looked very different.
Already postponed from April, the only indication of the race in the capital last Sunday was a barricade of screens around St James’ Park. Away from spectators, the world’s best marathon runners competed over nineteen laps of a specially designed looped course while 45,000 people covered the distance individually, logging their progress on the event app.
For those who ran last weekend, and those who, like me, always look forward to watching the coverage while safely positioned on the sofa with a cup of tea, the 2020 London Marathon was another reminder of the strangeness of this year. Shura Kitata’s sprint finish along an almost empty Mall felt bizarre without the roar of a crowd cheering him on to victory. Those who completed the marathon elsewhere through the grim wind and rain did so without the famous London landmarks, the encouragement of thousands of other runners, the buzz of the crowd or the promise of a glamorous Buckingham Palace finish line.
The New Testament frequently likens the Christian life to a race, testing not our speed but our endurance as we press on towards the goal. In Hebrews, the writer famously exhorts us to ‘run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith’ (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Perhaps during the last six months your race has felt rather lonelier and wearier than before. The course has taken a strange and unfamiliar turn; we’ve been physically separated from our crowd of fellow runners; the churches that fuel and encourage us along the way cannot meet normally. Like those running their marathon last Sunday as a solitary slog through wind and rain, we might think, ‘I didn’t sign up for these conditions’.
While the past few months have been painful for many of us, suffering, uncertainty and isolation have always been part of the Christian life. The writer of Hebrews knew the cost of persevering through huge trials, and found the secret of doing so: to keep their eyes fixed not on the trials, but on Jesus.
It’s only in knowing our saviour Christ as our greatest example, our constant companion, and our glorious prize that we’ll keep running to the end, whatever the uncertainties of the course.
Katherine works in communications for the Civil Service and attends Inspire Saint James Clerkenwell