The news media advises of the passing of Garth Gilmour, prolific journalist and author, on June 25th, aged 94. Garth caught the jogging craze and quit chain-smoking to become an Arthur Lydiard devotee and collaborator. I still consult Running with Lydiard in which Gilmour made Arthur's running programmes and experience available to readers everywhere. One of the appeals of Lydiard's approach was its simplicity and practicality. We may have fancier names for some of the principles and components of the method now, but the building blocks remain the same. Actually, It's well-thumbed pages sit on my desk now. Someone gave me a marathon training programme, but I had to examine it through the grid of Running with Lydiard, to make sure it stacked up. Arthur's gift was the re-invention of training for running, Garth's gift was communicating that revolution in a coherent, published format.
So I look back on that part of New Zealand's athletic history with thankfulness, it has been a gift that kept giving, and has inspired many such as myself - even with more modest goals - to plan a future that includes meaningful training activity that shows improving running results.
As Christians we we employ a similar approach. We look back upon recorded scripture and the exploits of God in history as a kind of yardstick by which to measure our present and future spiritual journey, as church and individuals. As Apostle Paul wrote to his protege Timothy; "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3: 16-17)
This habit of looking back before looking forward is not a new practice. God's people Israel were always doing it. We find a striking example of it in Psalm 78. Here the grace and guidance of God in delivering his people from Egypt toward the promised land is remembered, in spite of their unfaithfulness and shortcomings along the way.
Similarly the New Testament is full of interpretations of, and connections with the Old Testament. The prophet Isaiah is the most quoted in this regard. Our current journey through Revelation contains many references to Old Testament scripture, both obvious and more subtle. We are strengthened in faith and life as we explore these.
Today on communion Sunday we stand in the present, recalling scripture and the practice of the Lord's supper, handed down by Jesus. This provides sustenance for the present faith journey, vision and hope for the future as we imagine where God will lead us - for God is faithful.