This has been a week of conflicting emotions for me as two of my heroes have been all over the news for the wrong reasons: Jimmy Savile and Lance Armstrong. Their fall from grace has been dramatic.
Like so many children of my generation, I grew up watching Jimmy Savile’s ‘Jim’ll Fix It’. Each week we’d enjoy his surprises and the dreams he made come true for those who wrote in. I’ll never forget the belly rippling boy who was awarded a fur backed medal so it wasn’t cold on his tummy and the sight of the cub scout pack who asked to be allowed to eat their lunch on a roller coaster! We also marvelled at his charity work, especially his marathon running as he grew older.
As a keen cyclist and follower of the Tour de France, to me Lance Armstrong stood on his own. Maybe his cycling wasn’t as exciting as some of his predecessors to watch, but his achievement in winning the Tour 7 times was phenomenal; unmatched before and after. This was all the more remarkable when you take into account his overcoming life-threatening cancer just as his career was taking off. Like Savile, he also raised significant amounts of money for charity.
Sadly, these ‘greats’ have been accused of abuse and organised doping respectively. No longer are they heroes to be celebrated, but villains to be distanced from.
In no way do I want to condone what they are alleged to have done. These are serious matters and are not to be hidden away or dismissed, but I do wonder, do these actions that have come to light mean that we should discard the good that their fund raising achieved, or the entertainment that their work brought us? When we are children, we see people as being either goodies or baddies. It is only as we grow up that we learn to be more discerning and realise that we are all both; there is good and bad in each of us. In the language of the Bible we are made in God’s image, but tainted by sin. However, when it comes to public figures we forget this; we build people up, and then at the first sign of weakness or wrong, tear them down.
If we are honest, we have all fallen from grace although maybe not as publicly as these two men. Maybe that should make us think twice about how we respond? It also highlights how wonderful today is. As L… climbs into the baptismal tank, he is admitting that he, like all of us, is far from perfect, but at the same time he is celebrating the amazing truth that God, the only pure ‘goodie’, has not rejected him, but in Jesus and his Cross has accepted him and given him the opportunity for a fresh start. Could we ever dare to have the same honesty and yet the capacity to show such mercy and love?
Church newsletter article 14.10.12