Morning all, for those who read my recent blog Look the Part…Play your Part you will know that the Commonwealth Games are taking part in Birmingham England (my home city) this week. Sports people from many different parts of the world (72 nations) have come together to take part in about 19 different sporting events from cricket, athletics, rugby, swimming, gymnastics, netball, racket sports…a huge range over 10 days.
It’s a massive thing for the city of Birmingham because although Birmingham is the second largest city in the United Kingdom, it is generally still regarded as a poor place. It’s reputation has not been great. Birmingham has together with the region where I live (called the Black Country) a long industrial past so a lot of the city centre was made up of factories around the Jewellery Quarter and then there were the coal/tin mines in the Black Country with the glass, chain, steel and other industries. In the other areas of Longbridge and Solihull were the large car manufacturing plants and not forgetting the famous Cadbury Chocolate factories and village for the workers in Bournville.
When the industries, manufacturing and mining declined, and some disappeared altogether, those buildings and areas fell into disrepair and neglect and there was a lot of poverty but over the years the city and its areas have started to be regenerated. One of the beautiful things of the games is that people get to see the “new” and “regenerated” Birmingham. The regeneration is not complete by any means but these games have brought with them the ability to push that regeneration along. The past images of Birmingham are being renewed and people can see what a great city Birmingham is.
God is a God of restoration and these beautiful verses in Isaiah remind us of this:
“You will be a crown of splendour in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.“ Isaiah 62:3-5
The opening ceremony showed the story of Birmingham and its pioneering achievements but didn’t shy away from some of its difficult history…especially the cruel story of the women who were the “chain makers” of the area. These women worked day and night making chains for industry in terrible conditions and essentially being exploited in their labour. These brave women eventually stood up and said enough. They fought to have better pay and treatment.
There was a powerful scene in the opening ceremony when this huge (and I mean huge) mechanical bull was brought into the arena by these women in their chains. The women then were set free from their chains and released. This representation reminded me so much of Jesus who by His death and resurrection has set us, the captives free, and we are no longer enslaved to sin. We are free in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Hallelujah
There are many people praying for us whilst these Games are on that the light of Jesus will break over our city. Please pray that Jesus will be exalted in these days and the love of God made known. Join with us as we pray.
I started my first volunteer shift yesterday and for the next week will be carrying out various duties in my role and meeting lots of different people. I’ll post some (hopefully) fun stories of my experiences and what happens at the Games. Let the Games begin..