Clay

As Christians we are supposed to be strong and triumphant, winning spiritual battles and belting out the gospel, taking strongholds captive. Whilst this is true, what is equally true is our very weak nature which means that we have to rely on God to do anything.

 

One of my all-time favourite music artists is Rich Mullins who was a very grounded man and simultaneously whose artistry in music is soaring. You may recognise the chorus, ‘Our God is an awesome God’, however Rich Mullins also wrote and recorded one of the most poignant heart cries ever put to music, “Hold me Jesus, ‘cos I’m shaking like a leaf; you have been king of my glory; would you be my Prince of Peace…”. Between those songs we recognise that God is awesome and we are weak.

To every thing there is a season
Shaking like a leaf

In the fourth chapter of the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes of us believers being Jars of clay with treasure in them. We have the immense and profound truth in us that we are holding out to the world, and yet we are so frail.

 

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (NIV)

 

It seems that God prefers using broken people and broken situations to perform his work:

 

  • Mary’s alabaster box which she broke (Mark 14) to prepare Christ for burial; others considered it a waste whereas Christ said that she was right;
  • The broken ship; the wreck experienced by Paul (Acts 27, 28) that brought his testimony to Malta;
  • The roof that was broken (Mark 2) for the paralytic to experience healing; Jesus did not rebuke the men but saw the faith and healed the paralytic;
  • The body of Christ broken for us (1 Corinthians 11:24).

 

Of course these are not the only examples, but a reading of the Scriptures presents a slew of broken people, situations and things that ultimately served His purposes.

Weathered a little
Weathered a little

I personally would rather that he not use brokenness with me, however he is the potter and I’m the clay. Have you ever thought about God creating mankind on day 6, getting His hands in the dust and forming Adam?

 

The Hebrew word for dust in Genesis 2:7 is aphar (Strong’s #6083): clay, earth, mud, ashes, earth, ground, mortar, powder, rubbish. You will see in this list a common word we can associate to dust: clay. The term clay refers to a naturally occurring material composed primarily of fine-grained minerals, which is generally plastic (moldable, stretchable) when hydrated and will harden when dried or fired.1 Did the Lord God use water with the dust to form man? We can’t be sure, but Genesis 2:6 says water was present: “But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.”

https://answersingenesis.org/human-body/from-dust-to-dust/

 

The Kingdom is made up of those who are malleable as God showed Jeremiah in chapter 18 of the prophet’s book, and those also willing to be used by God, as cracked as they are as God showed Paul in 2 Corinthians 4. The Kingdom is made up of those whom trendy society rejects, the outcasts and embarrassing.

 

In this week I read of an encounter between a street preacher in Glasgow and a gay man riding past on his bicycle. The street preacher was considered to be an embarrassment and the gay man enlightened because the gay man said: ‘I love me, I don’t need a god to do it.’ While there may a context as to why the man on the bicycle said that, think about what that means: that his love for himself sustains him, that he doesn’t need God.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3582088/I-love-don-t-need-god-Brilliant-moment-gay-cyclist-shuts-anti-LGBT-preacher-receives-round-applause.html

 

As mere clay I have no right to be angry at God when he performs his prerogative, but this I do know: we all need his love. And He knows we are clay, it’s not like God forgets and expects awesome things from us. Think about that, and that one day there will be an end to brokenness.

The cross on Tygerberg Hill from a moving car
The cross on Tygerberg Hill from a moving car

Again from 2 Corinthians 4:

 

“16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Eleven

Some of the most momentous events of my life have happened on the eleventh of any given month, and although I derive no mystical significance from them, I have learned lessons from them.

 

11 October 1991

On a Friday evening at ‘The Lord’s place’ in Durban I called on the name of the Lord and was never the same since. Romans 10:

“9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

 

11 September 2001

I became aware of the world and geo-politics like never before when Al-Qaeda terrorists snuffed out the lives of 3,000 innocents. They’re not the only ones though as nation states are broadly active in exercising power over innocents and persecuting Christians. The nations rage and are in an uproar and rebel against the Lord and His anointed. Psalm 2 declares:

“1 Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”

 

11 March 2011

I was very aware of the power of nature and what it could do when a magnitude 9.0 quake struck Japan and inflicted a trifecta of disasters: Quake, Tsunami, and Nuclear radiation. Luke 21 declares:

25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”

 

Eleven
Eleven

11 June 2011

The account of Lazarus is recorded in John chapter 11, where Lazarus the friend of Jesus had died. On 11 June 2011, Tracy fell asleep and death became very personal.

 

The shortest verse in the Bible is from verse 35 of the 11th chapter: “Jesus wept.” Jesus is the image of the invisible God. God is moved by human tragedy and is moved by all of the events that move us to despair and tears.

 

John 11 continues:

“40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father,I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

 

The lessons I derive are that:

  1. God is moved by human tragedy
  2. He is the author of salvation; salvation is found in no-one else
  3. The nations can do whatever they want, He is in real control, and
  4. There is a resurrection

 

Thanks be to Him!

 

All quotes are from the NIV

Salafist sin

On any given week day a person can innocently go to the news to find out what’s going on the in the world and be confronted by the sordid particulars of the latest terrorist atrocity somewhere in the world. There are many human beings who perpetrate acts of terror however in the years since 9/11 we automatically think of the usual Salafist suspects as being behind religiously motivated violence.

 

To my mind it seems to come out of nowhere. Certainly to the people of Brussels, Paris, London, New York or Lahore the terror seems to strike in a random pattern and time which is why it is so terrifying and visceral.

 

Of course it doesn’t come out of nowhere and in truth the spectre of a terror attack is more immediate than many choose to realise. It reminds me of sin. Striking when I least expect it at my most vulnerable point and doing the most damage possible. The aftermath is shocking and messy.

Looks like a bomb's hit it
Looks like a bomb’s hit it

In the 7th chapter of Romans, Paul describes his own sinful nature as leading him to do the things that he hates.

 

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Saved by grace
Saved by grace

According the site www.thereligionofpeace.com, Islamic terrorists have carried out more than 28 000.00 deadly terror attacks since 9/11. Since becoming aware of my sinful nature, my personal campaign of sin has a tally that far exceeds 28 000.00. I suck.

 

Paul continues:

 

Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

 

Jesus is my rescuer, and wins the war on sin before even the last battle has been fought:

 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1, NIV)

 

What does that mean practically? It means acquittal on judgement day however for now it also means that I don’t have to be a slave to sin; when it threatens to overwhelm me and strike, I can do what is right and appeal to Christ. Being forgiven we are then free to approach God the Father not as He who will execute vengeance and condemn, but he who has already forgiven and will restore.

The magic bean

Strangely enough, Thursday last week was the low point of my week at work. You might be forgiven for thinking that Monday is the most hectic, as by now you will have come across that song by ‘The Bangles’ dealing with the subject and recognised that there is a big difference between Sunday and Monday…

 

…so, back to the low point of my week, for some reason in this particular week, Thursday was the worst. I got to thinking whether work was a tenable endeavour without coffee. Aside from the familiarity of the coffee drinking ritual that punctuates our working hours, there is the caffeine that always works.

 

The question occurred to me: what makes the working world go around? Is it a Protestant work ethic? The impulse to be creative and productive? Greed? Coffee? Or a combination of all of these elements?

 

I suppose coffee is part of what makes people at work more resilient but of course it’s not the main factor. A report just this month in the press (www.independent.co.uk) suggested that for over 40’s, the optimum work week should be three days. I imagine that this takes coffee’s powers of inspiration into account.

IMG_20160430_085740

For the under 40’s I imagine it’s a combination of idealism, youth and ambition. Or in the case of Wall Street and bullish investment houses, cocaine, greed and the thrill of the deal, at least according to Jordan Belfort, the author of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.

 

In a city like New York, remove coffee from the equation and ‘the city that never sleeps’ may a lot more somnolent. Back in the 1600’s coffee was far too expensive for consumption by the common man and the beverage of choice for breakfast was in fact beer as it was cheap. Beer could be brewed locally whereas coffee could not, making it an import and therefore a luxury. Most cities in America preferred a cup of tea as they were established by the English, however New York was founded by the Dutch who love coffee, and as the city grew as a place where coffee was processed, the beverage also became cheaper and grew to become the beverage of choice for New Yorkers. The people of New York consume more coffee per capita than any other population in the country with the exception perhaps of the Navy or Coast Guard.

 

In South Africa, fine and gourmet coffees are slowly but surely catching on. For the longest time instant coffees were the drink of choice and Saffas were content with the arrangement. Now instant coffees are considered quite a bit less refined. Barista coffee goes hand in hand with shopping malls and beautiful indoor spaces. We’re becoming more sophisticated and South Africa is now a growing market. Starbucks has just opened their first branch in the country and now there’s no looking back.

 

Coffee is what keeps me going at work. That and music. For other people it’s the opportunity to nail a colleague, or making a deal (in Wall Street they call it hunting elephants), or hang out with colleagues. Too much politics, so I’ll simply stick with my good old cup of Joe and hang in there till Friday afternoon.

Time travel economy seat

With the release last year of the latest movie in the Star Wars franchise, some economists decided to analyse the cost of the Death Star and the impact of its destruction on the Galactic Imperial economy.* Suffice it to say that the Great Depression of 1929 was child’s play by comparison.chea

 

It seems like all the best things in life are really expensive. In the 1985 movie ‘Back to the future’ Doc Brown tells Marty that he spent most of his family fortune on developing his time machine. Being able to go back in time is an intriguing prospect, revisiting the good, the precious, the things we hold close to our heart. And being as I don’t have the Brown family fortune but am a person of more limited means, I thought of a way to go back in time more cheaply: music.

IMG_20160501_113641

Music from my youth, from the times in my past where a song provided the soundtrack for a piece of once-in-a-lifetime history. The cost? The price of a writeable CD. Here follows a random sample of some music tracks of my life so far:

 

‘House of the rising sun’ (1964) by The Animals

The first song I remember from when I was young.

 

‘Cherie Cherie Lady’ (1985) by Modern Talking

The song from when I went to a disco at the 58th Air Scout hall in Durban and me and my cousin danced with some pretty girls.

 

‘I think we’re alone now’ (1987) by Tiffany

I remember carrying my ‘boom box’ and bright pink shirt to visit a young lady, playing this song and thinking I was impressing her.

 

‘U can’t touch this’ (1990) by MC Hammer

When I thought I knew what cool was. It hasn’t really translated very well to 2016. I actually bought the LP.

 

‘Tell me what you want’ (1996) by The Spice Girls

I remember being in London going to His People and Pastor Wolfie Eckleben preached a sermon about this.

 

‘Knowing you’ (1993) by Graham Kendrick

I remember attending a Promise Keepers meeting at Atlantic Christian Assembly in Sea Point and being floored by the Presence while singing this song. I’ve always loved the song ever since.

 

‘Here I am’ (2002) by Bryan Adams

This is the song playing as me and my wife entered the reception after we got married.

 

‘Blessed be your name’ (2002) by Matt Redman

The song I was meditating on in June 2011, and when Tracy died we played this at her memorial. It reminds me of my sister.

 

‘Dancing Queen’ (1976) by ABBA

Dancing in our lounge with my wife and two kids.

 

Time travel CD? Works every time.

 

*http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/35008095/star-wars-experts-calculate-cost-of-death-star-and-its-destruction

Reginae subditus Regis

Looking at the house of Windsor in the United Kingdom, I think we can all agree that the Royals are dysfunctional in the same way that any family is. Imagine being in the public eye all of the time though where your missteps and foul ups are on display for all to see. Unlike the Kardashians, the royal family are born to the public eye and had no option to seek it out.

I admire William and Harry and the balance and wisdom that they bring to their public lives (mostly). Of the entire royal house though it is the Queen who rules presently and with faithfulness since 1953 that I admire. Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth turned 90 years old on Thursday 21 April 2016 and that surely has brought with it a certain wisdom.

Her Majesty is a Christian and though she is Queen recognises that she herself is subject to the King of Kings. In her forward to The Servant Queen and the King She Serves, the book marking her 90th birthday, Elizabeth wrote: “I have been — and remain — very grateful to you for your prayers and to God for his steadfast love.” She added: “I have indeed seen His faithfulness.”

In 2011, she remarked: “Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general (important though they are) – but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.”

In her Christmas broadcast in 2014 she said: “For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.”

Glancing through the order of service for her coronation in 1953 (http://www.oremus.org/liturgy/coronation/cor1953b.html) the oaths, affirmations, promises and liturgy are filled with the Gospel and reference to Scripture:

Archbishop: Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon, and of your Possessions and other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?

Queen: I solemnly promise so to do.

Archbishop: Will you to your power cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all your judgements?

Queen: I will.

Archbishop: Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel?

Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law?

Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England?

And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?

Queen: All this I promise to do.

I believe the Queen takes her responsibilities seriously acknowledging Romans 13: 1 which confirms that “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”

It is also very comforting to realise that without all the trappings of royalty and the power that she wields that Queen Elizabeth is a Christian who attends church, is a faithful wife,  mother and grandmother that is also fond of dogs and horses.

O that so many others in authority would recognize their responsibility to the King of Heaven and be as humble. The world would almost surely be a better place.

Long live the Queen!

Being Thankful

Confession time: I read too much news and when I’m not doing that I’m catching glimpses of my depraved sinful nature. This can leave a fella pretty down in the dumps.

Recently my daughter has taken an interest in songs from old musicals and the other day we watched all the songs from ‘The Sound of Music’ on YouTube.

Singing is a very natural way to respond to grace, God’s favour in our lives. One day soon, I shall gush about grace and all that it means, however in short, Grace is the Greek word ‘Charis’ (and it encompasses all of God’s awesome things he does for us), and our correct response is the Greek word ‘Eucharisteo’ (being grateful, giving thanks). You may recognise that the sacrament of Eucharist is the same word.

So, to tune out SeanTV and focus on things I’m thankful for, try to ‘hear’ the following lyrics as set to the tune of ‘A few of my favourite things’ as sung by Julie Andrews. (Thanks to Rodgers and Hammersteins for the inspiration!):

“Warm toast with butter on cool autumn mornings

Coffee and cotton, jeans fresh from the ironing

Watching the Sharks play and seeing them win

These are a few of my favourite things

Birthdays and weekends and weddings and beer

Evenings with family and holding them dear

Eight hours of sleep on a June winter’s night

These are a few of my favourite things

When the car breaks

When the dog dies

When I’m 42

I simply remember the grace of the Lord

And then I don’t feel so sad”

1 Thessalonians 5:

16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

The crux of history

How is history defined? What does it all mean at the end of the day? We may not consciously think of history throughout the average day, but think about it for a moment: behind most news stories on the radio, television, newspapers or internet in this country the history of racial segregation is implicit and often referred to regularly. Without an understanding of the racial politics in the country – ‘apartheid’ and ‘liberation’ – it won’t make much sense.

In many news stories coming out of Europe and Latin America, behind much of the way of thinking is the idea of class struggle and its history. According to ‘The Communist Manifesto’, history is literally the account of the struggle for the ‘means of production’ (stuff) between the bourgeois (rich) and the proletariat (poor). Socialism applied to a society would literally be the end of history because it would mean the end of class struggle.

If our lives are like paintings then our history is like the frame that gives shape and definition to the borders of our philosophy.

In North America history is understood as the struggle for self-determination, including the rights of self-expression in words and by way of suffrage.

History is dependent on who is doing the ‘looking’. Many countries and nationalities define history as the struggle for their culture to emerge as superior to others, like China in the last several decades or Nazi Germany in WW2.

All of these views of history are temporal, or geographical, or cultural or to other points of view, comical.

History is literally and actually based on 1 thing: the cross. The cross and all that it means defines history and divides mankind in two. The cross is the load-bearing pillar of human history and human life. I believe our most vulnerable adult moment is when we lose a loved one to death. In that moment, does racial politics, the class struggle, self-determination or cultural superiority matter? I don’t understand how anyone would honestly be able to say ‘yes’. Those alternative histories may refer to valuable and valid things however they are mere side shows to the question: ‘Who do you say the Son of Man is?’

Picture this:  a graveyard and a tombstone to memorialise our loved ones. Are there quotes from Karl Marx? Benjamin Franklin? Confucius? Adolf Hitler? No, none of these historical frameworks has an answer for eternity.

Only God’s perspective is valid and true. The cross is the load-bearing pillar of human history and human life.

The Lambie calculus and other theories

I love theories because they express our desire to make sense of things. Along with describing a theory a person can devise a way to test it, or if it’s a really far out theory there is no way to confirm or refute it. There is practically no limit to theorising and historically, people have theorised some really crazy explanations, like the moon being made of cheese, or the human being made up of four humours, thus explaining behaviour.

 

More recently it has been theorised that there was more than one gunman at the JFK assassination, or that life emerged on Earth after having been left here by Aliens (panspermia) or that mankind evolved from apes by way of amoeba.

 

Sometimes it beggars belief what adults believe. You don’t find 6 year olds postulating that Elvis Presley is still alive and well and travels the lower 48 states in a rig, or suggesting that a cabal of powerful super-rich former frat-boys are controlling the world’s markets and pushing society towards a world war.

 

I have my own set of theories; some of them are in fun, and some of them are more serious. Theories that contradict Scripture however will not find an audience with my thinking though as I believe Scripture should be the ultimate frame of reference.

 

Perhaps it might be useful to point out that God has no theories, He simply knows everything. We on the other hand have huge gaps in knowledge (and intellect!) and so have to rely on theories, which – if there is any eternal use to knowing the answer to the question – we will know the answer to one day.

 

The Lambie calculus:

I postulate that since Patrick Lambie made an appearance in the 2010 Currie Cup, the Sharks have looked like the more finished article. In 2011 the Sharks finished second in the South African conference and 6th overall and lost a quarter final. The next year the Sharks finished third in the South African conference and 6th overall and progressed to the finals which they unfortunately lost. In each of the next three years (2013 – 2015), Lambie was injured early in the season and the Sharks failed to reach their potential, especially compared with 2011 and 2012. My theory is that the year Patrick Lambie plays through the season without getting injured the Sharks will win the competition.

 

Warp speed:

A lecturer once explained his theory to a class I was in, so it’s not my theory but just thinking about how awesome it sounds gets my inner geek excited. Consider it therefore an adopted theory…when you watch ‘Star Trek’ and observe the Enterprise enter warp speed, it seems like the space craft stretches. Warp speed is the barrier at which an object can travel faster than light. If an object could travel faster than light, it could be in more than one place at the same time which is what that stretching spacecraft illustrates.

 

Imagine that God is moving so quickly and is therefore in more than one place at the same time. I suppose that might work except that God is not an object that is limited by matter, energy, space and time. However what about the theory that God’s perspective is outside of our concept of linear time at light speed. In order to enter, to condescend, He may have to slow down considerably.

 

The ice-cream stomach:

No matter how full you feel after a big meal, there is always space for ice-cream. This is because of an ‘ice-cream stomach’ that is only available for your favourite frozen dessert, no matter how full you feel. This is an easy hypothesis to test.

 

Junk DNA is not junk:

Scientists have discovered from research that only around 15% of human DNA is coding DNA; in other words it provides the basis for instructions to enzymes to operate in a given and designed way; these segments of DNA split the original cells to form a person with fully functioning systems that determines sex, eye colour, shade of hair, pigmentation of melanin and all the other things that make you physically who you are.

 

The other 85% of DNA does not seem to have a purpose; hence scientists call it junk-DNA. It is information and may have a pattern. My theory is that non-coding DNA relates to our soul. Our soul is as much a part of who we are as our body is. What if it is a soul language that only He can read?

 

Truth serum:

If we gave all the atheists, agnostics and God-haters truth serum and asked them questions, my theory is that we will find that they admit that deep down, they know there is a God and that their philosophical framework is a device to keep from knowing Him, much like a child sticking their fingers in their ears and making a noise to keep from hearing the truth.

Of Shakespeare and Sharks

Shakespeare is regarded as one of the foremost writers in the English language since Elizabethan times. The era that saw Shakespeare write his classics also saw the publication of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611.

Now, I’m a bit of a literature fundi and enjoy Shakespeare. One of my favourites is Sonnet 130, My Mistresses Eyes:

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

As any she belied with false compare.

 

So, if we take Shakespeare’s description of his mistress she would look something like a dull-eyed, pale woman whose breasts do not make a stir, and whose hair is a little out of control and resembles wire. He also describes her breath as reeking which brings to mind mussels, garlic and onion.  Her manner of speaking seems to be discordant and she does not tread like a model when she walks, but she makes a bit of a boom boom going down the street. If we take it to a level of hyperbole, might she not make ripples in water glasses like the approach of the T-Rex in ‘Jurassic Park’?

 

For all of those flaws he loves her. Were Shakespeare’s mistress to pen a sonnet about him, who knows what she might have written about his flaws.

 

This is precisely like my relationship to the Sharks.

20140927_155605

I came to appreciate rugby at a late age and it happens that owing to the place of my birth I came to support the Sharks by default, a team that had its heyday in the 1990s. Known as the Banana Boys in those days the team re-branded to ‘The Sharks’, this around the time they managed to win promotion from the lower Currie Cup league and compete for the final of the Currie Cup, then the gold standard in South African rugby, when it meant something.

20141011_175141

Through the inaugural years of the Super Rugby competition between sides from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand the Sharks were always the bridesmaids, but never the bride. The title proved elusive and in 2007 when they played that year’s final at home in Durban a refereeing error handed the title to the Bulls in the last moments of the game. The years 2015 through to the present have represented the low water mark for the team and they present the appearance of Shakespeare’s mistress: pretty ordinary looks when compared to other teams.

20141011_175147

And yet I love them, though of course not in the same way as my family. The team is made up of young men and their families, older coaches to mentor them, all the backroom staff that keep things ticking over, and all of their families. And then of course the fans. I feel comfortable around fellow Sharkies.

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The history and present of the team reflects highs and lows, successes and failures and generally resembles the serialised and dramatic features of a soap opera…that men watch.

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Through supporting the Sharks I have come to learn humility. And the lesson that it is only really a game after all and that the Kingdom is more important. It sure doesn’t make life boring though.