I’m writing this vicar’s letter at lunchtime on Wednesday the 7th of July 2021. That it is lunchtime is an important detail. If I was writing this letter at about 10pm this evening I’d know the outcome of the England v Denmark match that is happening later. I’d be able to write about the 3 – 1 win for England (I hope! I’ve predicted a goal for Denmark inspired by Denmark’s Christian Eriksen)
Of course, if I was writing this letter at 10pm on Sunday the 11th of July I’d be writing about England’s 8 – 0 victory over Italy in the final where England’s Raheem Stirling scored all 8 goals. (OK, I don’t predict this will actually happen, though I’d fancy Stirling to score if we beat Denmark!)
I am of course, writing about the postponed Euro 2020 football championship. And over the last month I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching some fantastic football and I’ve found myself cheering for teams I didn’t plan on cheering for, “come on Switzerland!” The competition has been a great celebration of sport, of fun, and in the way the stadiums have been occupied by fans it’s hinted at a return to “normality”. Though everyone who has journeyed through the last 18 months is probably aware that there is still a long way to go for us to come to terms with Covid and to settle on an understanding of a “new normal”.
Of course, along with millions of other football fans across the world I was shocked by what happened to the Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen on the 12th June when he suffered a cardiac arrest whilst playing against Finland. Thankfully the player is alive now due to the quick thinking of team mates, the referee and the excellent medical team.
What happened to Eriksen was a firm reminder that in the words of the Book of Common Prayer, “in the midst of life we are in death”. Even in such a life-giving, celebratory thing as a football tournament, mortality casts it shadow, a shadow we have all been so aware of throughout this Covid 19 pandemic where all too often it has seemed difficult to celebrate anything. And yet as people of faith, we know, that we don’t journey onwards alone, for God is with us, and he promises to always be with use wherever we may go. (Even though we might be led to question where God is if Denmark win 8 – 0 tonight!)