Last week saw the 2019 world athletic championships play out in Doha. Over the course of the championships, there were some issues that drew attention away from the sport. The most notable one for me was the lack of attendance and the empty stadium. As the world watched on, there were empty seats and a sombre atmosphere.
However, this did improve as the championships went on, as people heard about and saw more athletic achievements. Crowds were drawn in by the celebrations and joy that sport offers. I watched it a lot from home and found myself joining in with the enthusiasm through my screen. Athletics, and sport in general, brings people together to thrill and excite.
This week we’re seeing a different type of gathering happening across London. Irrespective of what you think about their actions, Extinction Rebellion, have drawn thousands of people together in protests. In contrast to the athletics, these individuals have been gathered through crisis. They’re motivated by their distress over climate justice and want systemic change.
It made me think about togetherness. What draws us to each other? How do we connect with one another?
In the gospels, we see the disciples wrestling with these questions. They are people who gather in both trial and tribulation. In failure and celebration. Consistently they come to Jesus in moments of crisis and moments of deep joy. He is present throughout these times. It is profound to think of Jesus as someone who could both laugh and cry with his followers. Togetherness, for him, looks like being able to celebrate the miracles and respond to times of doubt and confusion.
Undoubtedly, we will all face times in our lives and world where there is cause for celebration or distress. During these moments, we can ponder what it means to do these things in community, not in isolation. For it is ultimately togetherness that brings about joy, hope, peace and love.