REFLECTIONS: Rev John Murdoch

Rev John Murdoch
Rev John Murdoch

LONG after they’re over, they’ll surely be remembered; certainly, if the build-up is anything to go by, ‘The Games’ will be impossible to forget.

Often the significance of an event is remembered by its date: Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon on July 21, 1969; HM the Queen’s Coronation on June 2, 1953 alongside Sherpa Norgay Tensing and Sir Edmund Hillary’s Ascent of Everest, the assassination of President John Kennedy on November 22, 1963 and then, possibly the date in this millennium which no-one can ever forget, the attack on the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001.

Let us hope and pray that, when July 27 finally appears, these Olympic Games will celebrate all that is best in athleticism and fair play and striving to be the very best one can.

The date may well be remembered, but of more significance is what will have occurred in terms of competition, behaviour, attitude and fulfilment.

Today is a day I well remember in 1989, as on that day I watched the musical ‘Les Miserables’ from the book of the same name written by Victor Hugo (and I still have the ticket!).

The date is largely immaterial because what is most important is what happened: a French bishop gives a convict a sense of value as a human being, offers him hospitality and complete forgiveness for stealing from him and gives him a new start to his life.

Bishop Myriel Bienvenu’s influence over Jean Valjean the convict is incalculable and that produces a change of heart, a love of and a desire to serve others, which far exceeds anything the bishop could ever have imagined would happen to this needy prisoner.

That prisoner went on to affect so many others for the rest of his life and he alone knew it was due to a bishop’s trust in him that he could offer to others forgiveness, gentleness, peace and hope, the characteristics of Jesus Christ’s grace.

We will never know the precise date of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection but that does not prevent us from holding on to the truth of these historic events which occurred in Jerusalem in AD 32 – events which turned the world upside down and changed lives, just as lives are changed today, 10 days after Easter 2012, a little less than 2000 years after Jesus rose from the dead.

Now that is some statistic, some truth, some date to be remembered in a year when many Olympic timings and dates will bring a fantastic sense of achievement to the winners and great joy for all of us who watch and remember.

The Rev John Murdoch, minister of Largo & Newburn and Largo St David’s Parish Churches, writes in the East Fife Mail.