Like many other people around the country I have had quite a few late nights over the last fortnight staying up to watch the Olympic Games in Rio.
I like the Olympics because of the range of sports you get to see and have enjoyed seeing the variety and celebrating the success of Team GB and am looking forward to doing it all again when the Paralympics start on 7 September.
Over the last two weeks we have seen many people win medals.
They will be faces we may recognise in the future because of their success.
But behind every medal winner there are many other people who contribute to that success.
After she became the most successful British female Olympian by winning her fourth gold medal, cyclist Laura Trott said in an interview that she wanted to thank all the unseen people who have helped her, saying that she couldn’t have done it without every single one of them.
She mentioned particularly people who collect data and her nutritionist but there are many others, people such as coaches, physiotherapists, family, friends, funders, others in the same sport to train alongside, encourage each other and compete against - athletes of past generations who have provided inspiration - athletes from the recent past who have gotten alongside the younger generations, supporting them and sharing their experiences of both the good and the difficult times so they can listen and learn from these - those involved in making the equipment used in the sport - those involved in building and maintaining the sporting venues - the crowds who support.
Some may be well known themselves, others anonymous.
Although we may not all be athletes, we too need to work with other people if we are to become the best we can. As individuals and also in our communities we all need other people to help and support us and help us to achieve.
Our communities can only be the best they can when people work together, using the different skills and abilities that everyone has.
I believe God created us all with different gifts, we are not all the same and can’t all do the same things, but we can all do something.
In the book of 1 Corinthians in the Bible, the apostle Paul talks about the church being like a body. This is an illustration which I think can apply to all kinds of community. Paul says that just like all parts of our body are important, each person is important. The foot can’t say ‘because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’ or the ear say ‘because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’. Some of the most important parts of our bodies are those which are hidden out of view, such as our brains, our hearts or our intestines.
It can be easy to look at people who are different from ourselves, who look differently, who live differently, who think or act differently, who are older or younger or less able-bodied than ourselves and think they’re worthless and treat them badly.
It can also be easy to look at ourselves and think we’re no good because we can’t do something that someone else can.
But everyone has something they can contribute.
We are all different and unique and good at different things - if we were all the same the world would be a boring place.
I believe God created everyone important, unique and valuable.
So rather than acting superior or putting ourselves or others down because of differences we should try to support each other and encourage everyone to achieve their potential. Take the time to look for the gifts of other people and share our gifts with others.
If we look for the best in other people and try to see how we can work together, using and valuing everyone’s different skills and abilities we can all help to make our communities, our churches and our world better - more how God created them to be.