Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Adventist Youth in the United Kingdom and Ireland


Spirit of the Flame - 70 days following the Olympic Torch
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DAY 68


Just before 1pm today the BBC Torch Relay website posted that hundreds of red balloons had been let off, just before the torch team stopped for a lunch break.  

Much as I have tried to find a picture of this, I have found nothing.  Sorry.  But it didn't stop me from looking, and started me singing a 1983 song by Nena called "99 Red Balloons".  If you don't know it, don't look it up.  It will plague you!  You have been warned.  

The original song was in German, and the lyrics slightly different to the English ones.  In English the storyline is two kids buy some red balloons, inflate them, and let them go.  They drift from West Germany to East Germany, and an East German radar technician spots something on the radar and activates a nuclear attack warning.  Missiles are fired from Global East and returned by Global West.  A world nuclear war defaces the surface of the earth.  This is obviously before the fall of the Iron Curtain.  Young ones, consult your history books.  

At the end of the song, the singer says she is looking for something to prove what was there, and finds a single red balloon.  Then she lets it go.  One suggestion is this song represents the dreams the post WWII Germans had of peace without division.  Each red balloon is a dream of something better.  ((

I have heard some concerns recently about the perceived association between the Church and the Olympics.  Without unwrapping that one too much, I want to say we should never compromise our faith, for anything.  But we have an opportunity to do something for God's sake!  

The "Jesus Followers" in the book of Acts didn't stay quiet during a Jewish festival.  Paul didn't stay quiet when surrounded by statues of mythical gods.  So we should not stay quiet when the world is visiting the Olympic Games.  That's not compromise, that's opportunism!  

The founder of the International Olympic Committee is Pierre de Coubertin.  His perspective of the competitive aspect of the games was stated this way, "The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

" Coubertin's idea that winning was less important than striving is at odds with the ideals of the Greeks. The Apostle Paul, writing in the first century to Christians in the city of Corinth where the Isthmian Games were held, reflects this in his writings when he says, "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize", (1 Corinthians 9:24)."  ((

The struggle to make the best of oneself, to win, to dream of better, to have a red balloon, is not just a sporting slogan, or an aspiration inferred in a song.  

Revelation 21 (NLT)
21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

It's good to have dreams, aspirations, red balloons.  It's good to do your best, in sport, in study, in work, for others.  But the best dream, vision, I have heard is that one day, everything will be levelled, everything made new, everything will be like God intended for us to experience, with the absence of selfishness and personal gain.  I can't wait.  Come, Jesus, come.  This is my red balloon.

-Pr Nathan Stickland



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