Summer is here, and the festival season is in full swing. Walpole Park hosted a Beer Festival
last week and will move on to Comedy, Blues and Jazz; Greenford and Acton have each had
carnivals. In the Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre, the big screen has been showing the
Cricket World Cup, with rows of deckchairs for the many spectators. And further afield in
Wimbledon, crowds have thronged to Murray Mound, formerly known as Henman Hill, to
watch the tennis on the big screen there.
I watched the Women’s Singles Finals from the comfort of my sofa, and wondered about the
appeal of Murray Mound. It’s one thing to be in the Centre Court, where you can cheer on
your preferred player; but on the Mound, the players can neither see nor hear you. Why go
all that way to be just outside the real event?
The answer is, of course, for the atmosphere. There is something energising about being in a
group of people, all united in a common interest; there is an excitement in sharing the
tension and the passion. Watching on TV is fine – you get an uninterrupted view and all the
action replays – but it’s not the same as being there, all cheering as one at another brilliant
That’s another thing about the tennis this year: the ability of fans, even of the players
themselves, to applaud brilliance in an opponent. Serena Williams and Roger Federer were
both astonishingly gracious in defeat, praising the winners with genuine admiration of their
The early Christians had a sense of excitement about gathering together, of sharing their
delight in this new way of faith. Theirs was mostly not the nail-biting tension of a
Wimbledon final, but the more sustained joy of working out how to live as a new
community. They didn’t always get it right – we see that from all the chidings in Paul’s
letters – but they knew the importance of being together, supporting one another in an
indifferent or hostile world.
I doubt I will ever lead a service that’s as exciting as the Women’s Final was. I can promise
I’ll never lead one that’s as long as the Men’s (a record 4 hours 57 minutes). I hope I will be
gracious even when things go wrong. And I pray that St Andrew’s will always be a place
where we can come together in mutual support, sharing, and joy.
Enjoy the rest of the summer, whatever you are doing.
(Revd Sue McCoan)