Andy writes this month.....

The World Cup dream for England is over......... least for another four years. Expectations have not been high, but there was always a chance. After all, as Jimmy Greaves said, ‘football is a funny old game’ – an observation which nurtures the hope of the outsider’s chance of success. Much has been said, pre-World Cup, about the theory that low expectations can actually help our footballers not to feel as pressured by the collective national hope, something that seems to have taken its toll upon previous squads.

But enough about football. How does this worldview of not expecting much play out in life in general? Francis Bacon said this: “Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not; a sense of humour to console him for what he is.” In other words, we can dream of being the best, but in the end we have to recognise our weakness and defuse our disappointment with humour.

Over my twenty-plus years in Christian ministry I have witnessed - and sometimes recognised in myself – many weaknesses, many times of disappointment and many occasions where expectations have died abruptly. But I have also seen the rebirth of hope, the rising again of expectations as those who suffer under the disillusionment of dashed hopes and destroyed dreams are comforted, supported and nurtured by a caring community. My own context is of course within the church, but this is by no means a blessing restricted to Christian communities; it is a facet of our humanity which confounds somewhat Bacon’s humorous but incomplete picture of what we are. Rather than using our imagination to dream of what we will never be, let’s imagine what a difference our caring would make to those who feel devalued and devastated by the loss of something they hoped or expected to have or be.

The Bible tells us that God is full of love and compassion, and that we are made in his image. Jesus said that he came to bring us life ‘in all its fullness’, words the deeper meaning of which I believe are worth exploring for all of us. 

        Andy Burrows

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