Christ Church Magazine, August 2012

Down by the River

The internet news has some wonderful aerial photographs of the 2012 Olympic Park. It is truly impressive! What a thrill to see magnificent venues all done and dusted for the biggest sporting event of all. Preparations for the opening ceremony are underway. One picture shows the main stadium with a huge river running through it: the River Thames.

This is not because it has flooded and overflowed into the stadium (“Don’t even go there” I hear you say!), but is something distinctive of London and crucial to its life. Rivers play an important part in the development of community life. Populations tend to grow up around rivers as important centres of activity from business to leisure. But of course rivers are vitally important for providing water. In the Bible the people of Israel would be keenly aware of the precious nature of water. Theirs was not an environment of plentiful water, so it was something that had to be carried by the bucket load or transported by aqueducts. The Bible often calls on the imagery of water to convey important truths. Let me quote from the Old Testament where it encourages us to stay close to the water source:

Blessed is the one who
does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
or sit in the company of mockers,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither
– whatever they do prospers
[Psalm 1].

This Psalm speaks of a life that is connected to the Lord God. It encourages a relationship of devotion to the Lord who gives us wisdom and reveals His purposes. It is a pathway that avoids evil but follows the ways of the Lord despite the pressure to take another route.

It promises blessings – just like plants which are in soil close to a water source so as to produce abundant fruit and leaves that look healthy. This is a picture of a life that produces spiritual fruit, rather than being a guarantee of physical health and wealth. Spiritual fruit is seen when we grow in our likeness to Jesus. The River Thames is a great symbol to have in the middle of the Olympic Stadium as it is a reminder to what matters most. The water source is Jesus Christ. Staying close to Jesus is like being close to the river as it brings great blessings. In Christ

Paul Kingman

Christ Church Magazine, August 2012