– in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd September 2013.
Welcome back. It is good to be back with you once more.
The first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader this afternoon is Matt Oliver, the chief executive of More Than Gold 2014.
Mr Matt Oliver (More Than Gold 2014):
In a little under a year, 71 nations and territories that make up the Commonwealth will descend on Scotland for the 20th Commonwealth games.
The Christian church in Scotland, united under the banner of More Than Gold, will seek to serve the games in a variety of ways. Building on the success of 2012, hundreds of churches will be opening their doors to show the games live on big screens to their communities and provide refreshments. One thousand people from around the world will assist the church in its activities, bringing with them cultural engagement programmes of dance, music and drama. The Salvation Army will distribute 250,000 bottles of cold water to spectators and, in partnership with the Scottish Government, we will provide free accommodation to over 400 members of athletes’ families and to official volunteers.
Many of the nations that are competing next year will be able to trace the Christian roots of their countries directly to the great missionaries of the past, many of whom came from this great nation. People such as David Livingstone, Mary Slessor and James Chalmers all contributed to the spread of Christianity throughout the world. However, for an old sportsman such as me, it is Eric Liddell, the Olympic athlete who famously refused to run in the 100m heats as they were due to be run on a Sunday, who epitomises the common values of sport and the gospel. In the film “Chariots of Fire”, Eric famously says:
“God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure”.
Liddell would be given a sporting lifeline when given a place in the 400m, in which he would go on to become an Olympic champion. For Liddell, serving and honouring God was truly worth more than gold.
It is the prayer of the team at More Than Gold 2014 that, as Glasgow prepares to host the world’s third-largest sporting event, it will feel God’s pleasure; that, as the church in Scotland rises in unison in acts of service, hospitality and outreach, it will feel God’s pleasure; and that you, as you go about your business in this place today, will feel God’s pleasure.