NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 25, 2014

Let us pray for peace and safety at Olympics

In the Spirit
The Rev. Lucy Blood

---- — In two weeks the 2014 Winter Olympics will begin followed by the Paralympics in March. Last September it was my honor to be a part of the ITU sprint triathlon world championship held in London. I was able to see athletes who had competed in the 2012 Olympics, also in London, race for their world championship. I was blessed to experience the pride of carrying the “Stars and Stripes” across the finish line and watched in awe as the para-athletes competed in the same venue.

The athletes who are on team USA this winter have endured countless hours of training in order to reach the level of being the best in their field. They will have the opportunity to compete against their peers from nations around the world. Their hope is to bring back gold, but whatever the outcome, the memories that they will bring back will far outshine any medals. They are representing our country and our way of life to the world.

A variety of controversies surround this year’s Olympiad. There are threats from outside sources whose main goal is to terrorize and bring fear to the event. People of faith must stand together united in the belief that love can overcome all obstacles, including those whose main goal is to bring terror and fear. Shame on those who would bring pain, suffering and death to people who only want to compete on the world stage in their chosen sport.

Let us pray for the safe passage of all of the men and women who will be traveling from their countries to Russia. Let us also pray for those who would do harm to the athletes and the spectators that they may have a change of heart and find love where there is hatred, peace where there is fear, and God’s hand in the midst of all humanity holding up hope for the future.

Another controversy is over gay rights in Russia and the fact that the government still openly persecutes people who identify themselves as a part of the LGBT community. Arguments were made that the U.S. athletes should boycott the Olympics because of Russia’s stance. People finally realized that the best way to combat prejudice is to show gays and straights united in the belief that legalized oppression is wrong and must change.

One of the constant images in each Olympiad is that of people carrying a torch. The torch is first lit in Athens, Greece, then carried for months across the world to its final destination where the competition will take place. The torch is a powerful symbol. A tiny candle can fill a room of darkness and make it bright. The enormous Olympic cauldron shines brightly through the entire event, just as God’s love shines out to a dark world.

The Olympic oath says, “In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.”

May we pray continually during the weeks the athletes are in Sochi that peace will reign, that camaraderie may abide, and that the blessing that is sports unify these athletes from around the world. May they do their best, be their best and expect no less from themselves or their fellow competitors. May God protect all of those involved in the 2014 Olympiad that they may Keep Shining!

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The Rev. Lucy Blood is past of Union Congregational Church, Amesbury.