I’m like many people: a keen tennis fan. For two weeks every year. Those two weeks in SW19 are generally enough. But this year they were rewarded in full. At last, it was a British man lifting that old-fashioned looking trophy.
But of course, it was about more than one young man from Dunblane. He may have been centre court, but there was a team of people supporting him, training him, caring for him, rooting for him. His team had prepared him behind the scenes so that when he was on his own, watched by the world, he was equipped and ready. Understandably, when it was all over he was quick to acknowledge that the victory was not his alone.
It’s not a bad picture of how we understand the role of the church in helping one another to gain confidence in living life as disciples of Jesus. We come together in worship and as a community to be reminded of our core identity, to be supported for those moments when we are alone, working and living as agents of a different kingdom, acting it all out in the midst of our everyday lives.
It’s not every day that you will be on centre court. Moses wasn’t in front of Pharoah every day; David faced Goliath once; it wasn’t every day that Paul found himself before Roman governors. But there were days like that.
And there are days like that for all of us. Centre court days. Days when we need to confront bosses about the justice of recent decisions. Days when we need to respond faith-fully to the heart-breaking news we’ve been entrusted with. Days when we need to take the risky decisions that could affect many others. Days when we share the good news that has changed our lives. Big days, when we need to be confident about who we are in Christ, about the gospel, about God.
And then there are the other days. Days of quietly learning how to serve God’s purposes in the places we spend most of our time. The small acts of kindness, the genuine responses fuelled by integrity, the words that heal and guide.
These are our lives. And whilst there may be challenges, we should not feel we are there alone. There’s the team: those we worshipped with recently, who encouraged us, those who shared scripture with us, those who shared communion with us, those who asked about our life, those who prayed for us.
Confidence needs community: a community that is genuinely interested enough to find out about the places we scatter to: our workplaces, our schools, our neighbourhoods. And then takes seriously the call to equip, nurture and sustain us in those places.
Confidence needs a vocabulary of faith; disciples will only learn how to speak, act and react as we listen to one another sharing our stories. The centre court stories and the ordinary stories. The spectacular and the faithful.
Confidence in a confusing world: it’s a team game.