Despite a year delay and the continued threat of covid, the Olympics are underway in Tokyo. Everything certainly looks different this time around. There is a noticeable lack of spectators, but organizers have highlighted that there are several new sports this year. Karate, surfing, sport climbing, and skateboarding are among the recent entries.
A hundred years ago there were several events that are no longer held. Tug-of-war was once an Olympic event and Great Britain won the last gold medal in 1920. There was also tandem cycling, polo, and croquet. In the obstacle race swimming event contestants had to swim 200 meters while climbing over a pole, a set of rowboats and then swim under a set of rowboats. While the Olympic Games have their roots in ancient times the actual sports and games have always been changing or evolving.
Times change and with them the activities and interests of people. Skateboarding competition is far more interesting to most people today than watching a tug-of-war. Yet underneath all the competition is the spirit of excellence, friendship, and respect, part of the Olympic values.
Churches have also changed a great deal in the last hundred years, even in the last twenty. I know that my grandfather would probably not appreciate the kind of music or more casual atmosphere found in many churches have today. Yet, in every age, in every culture, God’s people have sought first to bring Him honor and glory. While worship practices might change or look different over time, our reasons for gathering remain the same.
‘What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.’ (Deuteronomy 10:12) Rituals and routines can be valuable but we should always remember that worship of God involves the right attitude of the heart.