Mr Swindells outside Mayfield and Easthouses Parish Church
Experiences such as standing at the Western Wall on the evening of the Shabbat (Sabbath) and meeting Palestinians who live under the most desperate of circumstances reflect the almost incomprehensible contrasts that exist in this amazing but fragmented part of the world, writes Rev Sean Swindells (Newbattle with Mayfield and Easthouses).
During my stay I took part in the Jerusalem marathon. The following day, I chilled out by perusing the local papers, and came upon a story about a political activist called Mahmoud Abu Humus. He along with two other residents of East Jerusalem were arrested and detained by police to prevent them from organising a protest. Their complaint was that the marathon route went ‘through a place that was Palestinian’. Another group of activists, including some Israelis, did protest and displayed a sign saying the race was a political event aimed at making the occupation invisible. Were they right to mount a political protest at a sporting event? Should politics be kept out of sport?
Behind this is a deeper question that pervades modern life. We have all become use to subdividing our lives. We separate who we are from what we do. We separate our values and beliefs from what we do and what we say. And it seems so reasonable. It helps us to maintain control over our lives. We have become experts at adopting certain values, attitudes and words according to where we are at the time.
As a Christian minister, I believe that deep down within us an inner voice is calling for authenticity; for us to live our lives according to who we are, warts and all; not to hide our views and values and individuality behind a mask of respectability; not to subdivide our lives so that we appear to be different people! We need to be authentic. Should politics be kept out of sport? Absolutely not. Should faith and spirituality be kept in a closed compartment? Absolutely not! For those of us who are followers of Jesus, may His love and grace fully flavour all that we say and all that we do, in each and every situation, every day of our lives!