These thoughts are to help and inspire people like you and me to reach higher and strive for greater things, to stand for a cause more noble than self serving, seeing the good in others and seeking it for their sake. I unashamedly weave my faith, biblical insight and life experiences into a sporting context to illustrate my personal journey to this point - I hope in a small way, I can help you on your journey to being all you were intended to be....

There are now over 50 posts to check out, tweet, link to facebook or google+ Please feel free to share a link BUT If you use any of the illustrations please acknowledge the source as Phil Manchester, Bradford, England. You can follow me on twitter @philmanchester

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Cakes, cement and rugby

It was with a sense of anticipation that I was travelling to the English town of Rugby. My excuse was a business meeting. That was a front, I was on a mission.

I've always had an interest in where or how things started. Things that we take for granted. Things that are now part our everyday lives. Everything starts somewhere.

I had a mental picture of what I was going to experience. I wanted to take in the atmosphere, the sense of history. I would be inspired to come up with some motivational one liners, to inspire the lads back home. I was going to the birthplace of the great sport of rugby.

Driving along, I imagined William Webb-Ellis playing on the fields of the famous Rugby school. I could hear the lads and the master in charge shouting "What do you think you're doing boy?" Catching the ball and in defiance of the rules, Webb-Ellis ran off down the field with ball in hand. The rest as they say is history.

I didn't get to see the famous school. In fact, all I saw was the Rugby Cement factory and a traffic roundabout advertising the fact that "Mr Kipling" makes his "exceedingly nice cakes" in Rugby. A fact that didn't go unnoticed. Rugby, cement and cherry bakewell tarts. I am pleased to note that Mr Kipling cakes website has a "cookies policy".

The only reference to the great, global, sport of rugby was a roadside sign letting me know when to turn for the Webb Ellis Industrial Estate.

Like most of urban Britain, the town centre was a mixture of familiar retail chains, independent local stores, charity shops and people going about their business. They were totally oblivious of my quest to find the birth-place of a significant sport. I didn't even see a rugby pitch.

Standing in a car park looking at the back of the local bank and a small parade of shops, it was hard to imagine anything originating here - let alone the global phenomenon that is rugby. The remarkable thing is it did. Here in this small town in the middle of England. The truth of the matter is: everything starts somewhere.

The bible notes something about a town very similar to Rugby. It records a conversation between two men. They were talking about a man one of them had just met. The town: Nazareth. The man: Jesus Christ. "Where was he from? Nazareth? Can anything good come from there?" There was a familiarity about it. Jesus? Isn't he the carpenter? Rugby? Isn't that where they make cakes and cement?

The man's man Jesus lived in Nazareth. He had spent 30 years learning his trade and working as a carpenter. But his job, his town, his family circumstances didn't stop him taking his "catch the ball and run down the field" moment. His decision, to face whatever it would take to make us better men for knowing him, was world changing.

What decisions are we facing today? Don't let familiarity or circumstances prevent us from making choices that will change someone's world for the better; including perhaps our own. The ball is in the air. What will we do when we catch it?

It was strange to think that there, in Rugby, an ordinary town with ordinary people, something happened that changed the sporting world. Rugby has brought challenge, excitement, camaraderie and enjoyment to so many. Everything starts somewhere. And it's here, in the ordinary places, places with cement and cake factories, amongst the shops, banks, public car parks and yes the place where the great sport of rugby started, that the man's man Jesus challenges us to catch and run.

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