BBC Radio 4:Rev Dr Jane Leach - 11/06/2018


Good Morning

The countdown to the FIFA world cup is well under way and as we psych ourselves up for whatever this tournament will bring pub conversation returns to historic scenes of victory and defeat and the passing on from one generation to another of our sacred history… not least the first goal scored against England by Argentina in the quarter finals in 1986 –the goal that the replays showed was a handball, but that was desCRIbed by the scorer, as being ‘a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.’

The match was the first between England and Argentina since the Falklands war and the dubbing of the goal, ‘the hand of God’ for some added insult to injury – to suggest that God might be helping Argentina through to their eventual defeat of Germany in the finals.

‘The hand of God’ is an interesting turn of phrase that also turned up this weekend in the business news. Richard Hatfield, boss of Lightning Motorcycles in Silicon Valley, desCRIbed his first ride on an electric high-performance superbike saying ‘It feels like the hand of God thrusting you up the road.’

The phrase connotes power coming from somewhere unexpected – a sensation for which our senses cannot quite account – and it evokes perhaps some improbable images from religious art of God’s hand emerging from the clouds. But it also raises a serious question for religious faith of whether and how God relates to the world… is the world a clock set ticking by God that’s now left alone to run its course? Does God intervene directly to heal one and not another by some seemingly arbitrary scheme? Or perhaps God can only influence the course of the planet through the conscious minds of human beings and if so why on earth did he limit himself to this unreliable means? And if none of these seems satisfactory is there any other way in which we might make a credible case for God having anything to do with life on earth and our sacred histories?

In his letter to the church in Rome, St Paul speaks of the whole creation groaning for salvation. Christians believe that God is one whose depths are the source of this yearning for what is good, and God the one who is constantly weaving the threads of all life towards a fulfilment we can barely imagine. In this way of thinking the hands of God not only contain all that is, but patiently seek to guide us and all things onto evolutionary paths that make for flourishing.

On which paths perhaps even football and motorbikes have a place… football because it keeps alive a global conversation between countries even when there are political tensions between them and electric motorbikes because the drive to create the pollutant free ride not only promises exhilarating speed without guilt and that sense of being truly alive but develops a technology that leans towards an integrity for the whole inhabited earth.

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