Reflections on the Olympic opening ceremony, plus testimony and news of our family picnic.
Life Church Peterborough & Stamford

O Thou Who Changest Not

Life News winds down a bit during the August holidays and will be in a pared-down form for the remainder of the month. However, we kick off with a guest post from Jennie Pollock, originally posted on her blog on 28th July:

Olympic Rings by Nick J Webb on flickr

Did you watch that? Last night, the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. Did you watch?

It was incredible, amazing, superb, outstanding.
It was the most fantastic outpouring of British creativity, humour, pride and joy.
It made me cry, at several moments. This is the land I love. This is my home. This, warts and all, is part of me.
And it was ‘warts and all’. There wasn’t so much a thread of sadness running through it, but a great, wide river of sadness. The ‘green and pleasant land’ filled with children dancing and men playing cricket was ripped away to reveal a dark, menacing, industrial landscape. Though Brunel (Kenneth Branagh) gazed on it with pride and hope, and though it was part of forging Britain’s greatness, the point was not lost that it cost many their livelihoods and changed us all forever.
The joyous celebration of our literary heritage was also a celebration of the NHS and a famous children’s hospital – and thus also a reminder of disease and suffering. Even the description of Neverland read by JK Rowling emphasised its threatening dark shadows rather than its joyous possibilities and magical beauty.
There was a memorial to the World Wars, and a moment to remember the loved ones of many in the stadium who have passed away, and there was Muhammad Ali.
The voiceover said he was there to represent strength and determination, but actually what he represented to me was the decay of greatness. This man who had been feted, idolised and adored, who had been at the very top of his field could no longer stand unaided, could not reach out to touch the proffered Olympic flag, could not even respond to his wife’s repeated instruction, “Wave, Muhammad, wave.”
In his programme notes, Danny Boyle, the creative genius behind the spectacular show, said that the ‘golden thread of purpose’ running through it all was the “belief that we can build Jerusalem. And that it will be for everyone.” Yet what his own ceremony showed was that despite all the progress we have made, we are still dogged by decay at every turn. Everything continues to change. We’re no longer world leaders in industry. Mohammed Ali can no longer float like a butterfly. Paul McCartney can no longer sing. The things and the people we love pass away and we are powerless to prevent it.
Neither the Queen, James Bond or our 541 Olympic athletes can deliver the future he longs for.
Yet all is not lost, for in the midst of the ceremony came a hymn. A hymn which pointed every man, woman and child who cared to listen in the direction of the One who can deliver this dream, who has promised to do so and who has opened the offer to all who choose to accept it.
The hymn was ‘Abide with Me’, sung in full to a hushed stadium, accompanied by a flowing and beautiful dance. I can think of little that would better answer the yearning expressed through this opening ceremony than this hymn and, in particular, this verse:

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Danny Boyle, well done. You created a ceremony to make your nation proud. Your creativity, style and humour shone through and reminded us of the many reasons we have to celebrate this country. And above all you – albeit unwittingly – pointed us to the only One who can make sense of it all, sustain us in life and renew us in death.
Well done.

Jennie PollockJennie Pollock
Jennie is Editor of UK media and communications for Newfrontiers UK. She lives in London, where she's part of ChristChurch London, and writes regularly for the Newfrontiers theology blog.

Family picnic

Bring your picnic rug, a picnic lunch and perhaps a ball or frisbee to Burghley House (Barnack Road, Stamford) after our morning meetings on Sunday 26th August for a relaxed afternoon of fun together. Find us near the car park!
Brian Thorpe

Brian's inheritance

Brian Thorpe, part of our Peterborough congregation, went for a routine check for glaucoma recently, which uncovered a blocked blood vessel in one of his eyes. Brian's family history includes incidents of thrombosis and issues with the liver, kidneys and urinary tract. As a result he was referred to his GP for blood tests, looking for genetic markers for related diseases. In the meantime, Mike Bollinger visited us at Life Church in Peterborough back in June, when he preached about recognising God's guidance in our lives. Brian asked Mike to pray for him and his family, simply 'for health reasons' (both Christine and Matthew also faced health issues) and, having no more information about Brian's situation, Mike prayed against any genetic inheritance of thrombosis, liver or kidney disease. Brian felt an immediate release and praise God that the results of Brian's blood tests have now come back clear, with no sign of any genetically inherited disease.
Contact us

Get in touch

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Diary dates

Coming soon ... to a congregation near you

Sunday 12th August:
Main meeting (Peterborough), 9.45am, Gladstone Centre
Main meeting (Stamford), 10am, Queen Eleanor School

Sunday 19th August:
Main meeting (Peterborough), 9.45am, Gladstone Centre
Main meeting (Stamford), 10am, Queen Eleanor School

Sunday 26th August:
Main meeting (Peterborough), 9.45am, Gladstone Centre
Main meeting (Stamford), 10am, Queen Eleanor School
Family picnic, 12.30pm, Burghley House

Sunday 2nd September:
Main meeting (Peterborough), 9.45am, Gladstone Centre
Main meeting (Stamford), 10am, Queen Eleanor School

Adam's new mobile number

Please note Adam Bradley's new mobile number: 07933 175569.
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