There’s a new Olympic sport. Not as much of a guilty pleasure as beach volleyball, but good nonetheless. It’s called Olympic News Bingo, and involves watching BBC London (my local news) and seeing how many tenuous links to the Olympics they can make with an ordinary news story.
A bus has crashed – OLYMPIC TRAVEL CHAOS.
Famous person visits London – OLYMPIC HOTEL CHAOS.
Boris Johnson – OLYMPIC BORIS JOHNSON CHAOS.
You get the picture.
Without wishing to cash in on such cheap journalistic techniques, I was thinking about how much the Olympic ticket lottery was a bit like many people’s attitudes to child baptism.
To get an Olympic ticket, you don’t have to be into sport, you just need to want to be there; you don’t have to know what it will be there – you may end up watching cycling or wrestling or hammer-throwing – but at least you will be there; you don’t have to make any long-term commitment, just give your credit card details, sit back and wait. It may work out, it may not. At least you’ve done your bit to try.
Many people approach having their children baptised in a similar way. You don’t have to be into Jesus (or even religion), you just need to want them want them to get into heaven, though you don’t really know what that means and actually aren’t very interested in finding out. Like handing over your credit card details to Olympic organisers, you make the “renouncing evil” promises through gritted teeth. You don’t really know what you are promising, or where you will end up, but at least you are in shout for a ticket.
And the best thing? No long-term commitment. Ok, the vicar goes on about the ‘baptism legacy’ being you and your child involved in your local church developing healthy spiritual lives… but you know as well as he does that you have no interest in a long-term legacy, just like getting an Olympic ticket isn’t going to make you join a gym. You just want a ticket and then to go home.
I know not everyone thinks like this. We are about to do our first baptisms at our church for years and our prayer is that in the same way buying an Olympic ticket might get more people involved in the wonderfully life-giving life-changing thing that is participation in sport, so our baptisms might get more people involved in the wonderfully life-giving life-changing thing that it participation in Jesus’ kingdom, in bringing heaven to earth now, not just for the future.
Only time will tell. I know I am convinced that no ticket will give me a better view of the Olympics then from my armchair. So there I will stay.