Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Olympics 1: A global welcome    (7/15/2012 )

It’s just 12 days to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games 2012.

All over the world, people will be preparing to come to London—whether as an athlete, their family members, their support staff, village employees or (if they were lucky enough to get tickets) as a spectator.

Some people may only be preparing to travel to London from somewhere quite close by; for others, it’s going to be a huge journey, with lots of things to think about and prepare before setting off.

One of the things I really value about being a Christian is that I automatically have family wherever I go in the world. I can go to church in France, Sri Lanka, Iceland or the USA, and be welcomed as a brother or sister.

So it’s nice for British Christians to have the opportunity to welcome the rest of the world—whether they are Christians or not. A Christian organisation called More Than Gold is co-ordinating local churches to provide a wide range of services, in London and across the UK, to support people and engage with local communities throughout the games. Here are just some of the things they’ll be doing:

Welcoming athletes’ families

  • Collecting and welcoming athletes’ relatives and providing bed & breakfast accommodation for 8 days for them—because hotels are heavily booked at twice the usual prices
  • Providing a homely, welcoming and caring place to stay in a strange city
  • Dropping the relatives off at a transport hub each day so they can quickly and easily make their way to the Olympic Village

Providing hospitality centres for visitors

More Than Gold teams will be welcoming and supporting Olympics spectators on the streets, at park-and-ride areas and at venues near the games sites and the torch relay route. They will offer:

  • Rest for tired feet and legs
  • Free internet access
  • A refreshing drink
  • Information about the games, travel and the surrounding area
  • Practical help, including prayer

A Million Cups of Water

  • Visitors to a summer games get thirsty as they make their way to the site and around the site, especially as they are advised to arrive for events several hours early and will have to queue through lengthy security checks. So the programme will give away a million cups of water—with a smile and a welcome.

Other services

  • Serving food and drink to the crowds
  • Providing entertainment and outreach
  • Chaplaincy services in the Olympic Village, in hospitality centres, on the streets, and at transport hubs.

Jesus didn’t set himself on a pedestal: he came to love and to serve. By following his example, Christians will provide a warm welcome here in Britain for people from all over the world, whatever their own faith and also if they are of no faith at all.

Look out for More Than Gold as you watch the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games!

More Than Gold was launched in January 2007 at Westminster Central Hall, London, by Lord Coe of LOCOG, Tessa Jowell MP, Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams and Roman Catholic Archbishop Cormack Murphy-O’Connor.

Pray: Lord, I pray for the safety and well-being of everyone involved in the Olympic games, whether they are athletes, spectators or support staff. Thank you for the opportunity to care for and serve them all, by your example. Amen.

Think about: Why do you think Christians want to follow Jesus' example by loving and caring for strangers?

Challenge: Why not take the opportunity, several times during the Olympics and Paralynpics, to pray for everyone involved.

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