Brazilian feast an example of revisiting faith

The Rev Richard Baxter, Kennoway, Windygates & Balgonie: St Kenneth's.
The Rev Richard Baxter, Kennoway, Windygates & Balgonie: St Kenneth's.
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The football World Cup is now in full flow.

For the next few weeks, it will dominate our television screens, to the delight of sports fans and the frustration of others.

My World Cup memories go back as far as Mexico 1970. I remember the breathtaking Brazilian team of that era, but mostly I remember buying sticker books and collecting stickers as if my life depended on it.

As a little boy, I looked on at each successive World Cup with wide-eyed wonder.

For the duration of the tournament, I lived, ate and breathed football.

I remember the glory days when my team – Northern Ireland – actually qualified for the finals in 1982 and 1986 (and the disappointment of all the other years).

Over the years, I remember many of the triumphs and disasters, skilful moments and scandalous incidents.

Now, as I look at the 12th World Cup within my memory, I can’t help feeling the game is not quite what it used to be.

It seems damaged by too much money and too many corruption scandals.

Yet I’ll still watch, and there will be moments when my childlike enthusiasm is reawakened and rekindled. I’ll still cheer for underdogs, shout at cheats and applaud skill.

I’ll still complain about referees and accept the inevitable when Germany win on penalties in the final.

Our viewpoint on all sorts of events changes over time. Sometimes, however, the change is in us, and we need to rekindle youthful enthusiasm and passion.

I meet many people for whom faith was at one time a big part of their lives – in Sunday schools or youth activities, for example, or simply as a source of daily strength – and they often talk fondly of those times.

Yet somehow over time, unintentionally, the perspective changed, and it no longer occurs to them that faith has something to do with their lives now.

Often it takes a big event – a birth, a marriage, an illness or a bereavement – to remind us of that which is beyond ourselves and beyond our everyday lives.

A World Cup will probably reignite my childish enthusiasm for international football, at least for the duration of the tournament.

But perhaps for some of us, we also need to reignite our relationship with God and to reconnect with a faith which has helped us, not just at the time of big life changes, but in our daily lives as well.