Rugby and the VaticanApr 9th, 2010 | By Ian Poulton | Category: Ministry
There were around 20,000 spectators at the RDS to watch Leinster play French side Clermont-Auvergne in the quarter final of the European rugby cup. It was a great occasion; the lead changing a number of times and the result not settled until the very last kick of the match. There was a great spirit amongst the supporters. As the final whistle blew and Leinster won 29-28, a Leinster supporter further along the row leant forward and with an outstretched hand offered his sympathy to a group of Frenchmen sat in front. They smiled and shook hands with him.
Had Leinster lost, would the mood have been so buoyant? Of course not, but there would still have been a sense of being present at an occasion. There would still have been laughter amongst those leaving the ground. There would still have been conversation over a pint as the match was relived play by play.
Begging the indulgence of being picked up at the station, instead of walking home, going to check on the email, I caught sight of the Woopra page that tracks traffic to this blog. There are never very many visitors: 100 or so on a good day, barely 50 people on a bad day.
Today it is a barely 50 day; at 2310 the number of visitors stands at a grand total of 44. It was the low total that meant one particular visitor was spotted. at 10.36 pm a visitor arrived with the search term, ‘homily on easter sunday 2010’. Using the Italian version of Google, the person was searching for sermons in English preached last Sunday. Their browser was Internet Explorer 6 running on Windows XP, they were obviously not into cutting edge technology. It was the location that was surprising – the Vatican City.
Why on earth would anyone sit at 11.36 pm local time on a Friday night checking what had been said in sermons the previous Sunday? More particularly, why would anyone in the Vatican want to sit late at night checking Protestant sermons?
It seemed bizarre. Perhaps it was some minor official who had nothing better to do with the evening, though Rome must have more attractive options. Perhaps it was some elderly ecclesiastic keeping an eye on the heretics?
It seemed somehow sad that someone would go through site after site, for that is what must have happened to reach somewhere as obscure as here. Instead of looking at what other churches are doing and saying, especially ones that have a similar dearth of younger people, and that are experiencing a similar decline, why not go out and look at what works? Look at the sports stadia that are filled; look at the rock concerts that are packed; look at the pubs and the clubs that are buzzing. There must surely something to be learned.
It was a great night out and in the handshake of that single Leinster fan, there was a greater sense of fellowship than would be found in many churches. Signor, forget about Googling sermons and look where the people are; that’s where Jesus would be.