Well the football World Cup is over and the England team came so very close!! Well done to Gareth Southgate and his squad, apart from nearly pulling off the ultimate prize they also pulled their country together in a positive way for a couple of exciting weeks of eager expectancy.

While the World Cup is over – football is back!! The Scottish season started the day before the World Cup Final even and the English leagues kick off on August 4th and the Premiership a week later. So if you don’t like football “batten down the hatches” till next May!!

Talking of football, as I write this (Saturday 21st July) I notice that tomorrow evening on television there is to be shown a documentary film about the life and times of that legendary manager of Liverpool FC – the great Bill Shankly. I have a particular affinity with Bill Shankly not only does he come from the same county as me (he was born in the mining village of Glenbuck in Ayrshire) but he had an outlook on life generally that is very much in keeping with the teachings of Jesus.

Most people will be familiar with Shankly’s famous retort – when someone accused him of treating football as a “matter of life and death, “Shankly immediately responded, “It’s far more important than that!!”

But it is two of Shankly’s lesser known quotes that resonate with Christian values.

Firstly, bearing in mind Bill Shankly had been a coal miner, the son of a coal miner, you would expect his political views to lean a particular way but when questioned about this he is quoted as saying,

“The socialism I believe in is not politics. It is a way of life. It is humanity. I believe the only way to live and to be truly successful is by collective effort. Everyone working for each other. Everyone helping each other and everyone having a share of the rewards at the end of the day. That might be asking a lot, but it’s how I see football, it’s how I see life.”

Shankly’s philosophy is very much in keeping with the values of Jesus about sharing and caring and loving one another for the benefit of all.

Finally on his retirement Shankly said,

“I was in the game for the love of football – and I wanted to bring happiness to the people of Liverpool.”

This comment reminds me that Jesus came into this world for the love of us and to ultimately bring joy to all people.

“You will have joy which no one will take away” (John 16:22).

I hope that any of you going on holiday this month will have a restful and enjoyable time.