Im not doing detached this evening. Nor am i walking my dog. Or studying. Nope, tonight is a boys night out for me and George. Tonight we’re going to a football match at the Riverside, Middlesbrough.

What will be the signs and symbols of God at work, at a football match ?

As well as the usual moments of unexpected action, of drama, and of celebration ( or frustration if its a 0-0), tonight, around 25,000 people will act in collective remembrance to a local hero, Ali Brownlee.

Ali commentated, no, lived for Boro, the team, the town, the region. Ali was a fan, a person an enthusiast. Ali died of Cancer last week, aged 56.

Scarves already adorn the gates at the stadium, the programme is a tribute, a minutes applause before and during the game, and songs (which have been sung every week) will continue throughout.

The Game might almost be a sideshow to the collective tribute of one man, who narrated the tale of one football club on the radio over a period of 30 odd years.

So the question is, what might tonights events signify about what God is doing in the world already?  How might the moments of collective grief and remembrance witnesses to this reality?

Maybe also that the football community can relate to the voice of Ali, even when he got frustrated with the team he loved, because he was only voicing what they also knew. Does this say something about the collective community of the fans, of a team – only from within can criticism come.

So, back to tonight, moments of collective remembrance, the drama of sport, the unprectable theatre, the unison of audience inspired performance. The stage is set.

And im barely a fan of the team. But the bug, the drama, the sport and the Community is dragging me in….

If any of this is a metaphor for the church as theatre, then go with it, as a moment that embodies local passions, griefs and spirit, and culture – where might God be present in this space?

 

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