On Monday night, we as a family travelled to the Titanic slipway to welcome home the Green and White Army from their incredible time at this year’s European Championships.
Stephen Watson from the BBC hosted an evening at which thousands of fans cheered and welcomed their football heroes back home with the now famous ‘Will Grigg’s on Fire’ chant.
We’ve seen some amazing play over the past few weeks, but for me, Michael McGovern’s performance as Northern Ireland goalkeeper against Germany was something that will remain in my memory for a long time, keeping our local team in it and helping us secure a spot in the last 16.
The dynamics and unity of any team is so important. And whilst everyone would like to be up at the front scoring the goals, it is not a sustaining model for success. We need to have defenders, we need to have forwards and we need to have goalkeepers.
Can you imagine what would happen if Michael O’Neill had decided that he didn’t need any of the goalkeepers this year and sent them back home on the plane? It would have been a catastrophe. We need the right balance of skills within the team because each one has a purpose and role.
On stage at the Titanic we also welcomed the support team that accompanied the footballers to France. They are just as important as anyone else in the team. You may not get to see them on the pitch, but without them the overall health and wellbeing of the team suffers. A good analogy for this is the body and all its parts. The Apostle Paul wrote about this in his letter to the Church in Corinth. When one part does not function properly or is absent, Paul warned of the damage it inevitably causes to the wider body.
God’s desire for his Church (the Body of Christ) is that it operates like the players in a team. When you look at the Church, you should see people who are united together with a common purpose.
God wants his church to be made up of different parts, different people, different gifts all working together in harmony. No one should be greedy to just take the jobs that attract the spotlight, and everyone should feel they have a part to play.
As we look at the example of unity within our amazing Euro 2016 football squad, may we be reminded of the desire that God has to see unity and purpose within his church.
By Rev Jonny Campbell-Smyth