Lets cast our minds back a few years to the summer of 2012 and the London Olympics. It was of course a great summer for British Athletes – I hope Rio this summer is just as good. Team GB did really, really well, in London.
But what I found really interesting and uplifting was that behind many of the gold medals were real tales of trial and tribulation; heartache even. For me Katherine Granger the rower was the epitome of someone who had given their very all and kept going until she received the greatest of Olympic prizes, the gold medal. In Olympic terms she 'fought the good fight and finished the race.'
Those organising the London Olympics spoke time and again about the importance of creating a lasting legacy. Legacy goes beyond individual glory, but is dependent on role models inspiring others to give it a real go. There can, in my mind, be little doubt that very large numbers of people have taken up cycling because they were inspired by the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.
Jesus appointed a group of men and women to create a legacy. And because we are here just over 2000 years later in church today, I think it is fair to say they succeeded. The legacy they created is built on one simple article of faith summed up in the words of St Peter: 'You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.' It is this belief that will lead us to the ultimate glory, our destiny, that St. Paul refers to when we, in the words of St Paul, 'finish the race.'
But in the meantime, we need to build on the work of the apostles, we do after all affirm that 'we believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church,' to ensure that the legacy continues. We need to 'fight the good fight.' We need to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, we need to strive to be a blessing for all, and to pursue all that leads to 'justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.' We like Peter have been given the 'keys to the kingdom,' and need to unlock something of the kingdom 'here on earth as in heaven.'
And, I think that after this weeks referendum we need to really think about what this means. There is no doubt that this nation is deeply and bitterly divided. There can be no doubt that feelings of anger, resentment and bitterness persist. People are worried, and they are also scornful. Many feel let down and disfranchised. Society is in many ways polarised and divided; and this is sad.
As the Church we need to emerge ourselves with reality as it presents itself, we can do no less. We need to work for justice and the common good, we need to take the concepts of charity and hospitality, which are divine concepts seriously, we need to redouble our efforts to do the 'dirty work of holiness,' just like Peter and Paul, just like our patron saint St. Laurence. We need to be people of reconciliation and forgiveness, we need to be humble, we need to be as Christ, for that is what it really means to stand in the Apostolic Tradition.
And, we need to be inspired by the likes of Peter and Paul. We need to be inspired yes by their heroism leading to their martyrdom, but above all we need to be inspired and encouraged by their sheer human fallibility. God shows his strength when we allow ourselves to be weak and when we own our fallibility. Its when we regard ourselves as strong that we become a problem to God.
They didn't always get it right, they weren't perfect, far from it, we know that from Scripture. But they had faith and they kept going to the end. So can we and we must if we want to stand in the apostolic tradition and play our role in growing the legacy, so that with St. Paul we too can say 'to him be the glory for ever and ever,' Amen.