As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will seek to post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.
Thursday 4June 2020
‘The story of Kathrine Switzer’
Yesterday (3rd June) was Global Running Day – a worldwide celebration of the running in all of its forms. If you missed it, don’t worry. There is still time to lace up your trainers and head for the great outdoors…
I am reminded of the remarkable story of how in 1967, 20-year-old Kathrine Switzer made history when she became the first woman to officially run in the Boston Marathon — even as race officials tried to physically stop her as it was a ‘men only’ event. Back then, it was though impossible that women would be able to cope with running such a gruelling distance. As a student at Syracuse University, she registered for the marathon as K.V. Switzer, and no one seemed to notice she was a woman until two miles into the race.
At the two mile mark her deception was discovered and a race office, Jock Semple, jumped off the press bus and ran after her. Switzer recalled: “He grabbed me ... threw me back and he said, ‘Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers, and he tried to pull my bib numbers off.” A photographer captured the event. Her boyfriend intervened, pushed the race official away, allowing her to carrying on running and finish the race. But retribution was swift. At the finish line, Kathrine Switzer, was confronted by aggressive journalists. This was swiftly followed by her disqualification from the race and expulsion from the Athletic Federation.
Her experience, coupled with the now iconic photographic that was published all over the world, galvanized the women’s movement. According to Kathrine Switzer it helped change the game for female athletes. “It changed everything,” she said. “It changed my life and it changed millions of women’s lives.” She started her own club, which organised events and races, which eventually attracted sponsorship. Switzer then went on to create a global series of races in 27 countries with millions of women. “It grew, grew, grew,” she explained. “We could take the data and statistics from all of these events, took it to the International Olympic Committee, and we got the women’s marathon included in the Olympic games.”
In 2017, at the age of 70 she made a return to the Boston Marathon – this time as an honoured guest. Wearing her original number, 261, she crossed the finish line to rapturous applause. "My message to young girls is that you can do much more than you ever can imagine," Switzer said. "The only way you can imagine it is to do it. To take the first step. And if you take the first step, you can then take three steps. And then you can take 10. And someday maybe you can run a marathon. And if you can run a marathon, you can do anything."
She concludes: "If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon."
Joel 2: 28-32
The Day of the Lord
28“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
29Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
31The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
32And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.
Galatians 3: 23-29
Children of God
23 Before the coming of this faith,we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The Christian faith as not always been kind to women. One Talmudic passage sums up the situation of women at the time of Christ:
"(They are) swathed like a mourner (referring to the face and hair coverings) isolated from people and shut up in prison"
For many centuries women have not been able to pursue their God given ministries or be recognised as equal partners in faith. Much of this of course reflects the culture of the day. And yet Jesus saw things differently.
‘Time after time in the Gospels, we see Jesus offering his teachings, healing and forgiveness to women as well as men. Often it was the women who were the most appreciative of his ministry. Indeed, the first proclaimer of Jesus to the Jewish people was a woman—Anna in the Temple (Lk. 2:36-38). A woman washed the Saviour’s feet (Lk. 7:37-38) and anointed him for his burial (Mk. 14:3). It was women who were with him at the cross until the end (Mk. 15:47), and women who were the first to come to the tomb (Jn. 20:1) and proclaim his resurrection (Mt. 28:8).’
Points for reflection
Parts of the Bible are clearly influenced by the culture in which it was written. We need to always keep this in mind when reading, studying and applying the Bible.
Within the Church of Scotland, women are full partners in every aspect of church & congregational life.
As parts of American (and Scotland!) still needs to discover, we are one in Christ Jesus. If God’s accepts all of us, who are we to separate people on the basis of race and gender?
Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Church.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
God, you have chosen to give me this race of life, and I run to complete the course and honour you. The way is long and sometimes treacherous. Often I grow exhausted. Sometimes I want to quit. But I have a finish line to cross; I run to get there.
Lord, guard me and keep me healthy on my actual, physical runs. You have given me this body and you ask me to care for it. Running is a part of my stewardship. Keep my feet and legs strong and without injury. Strengthen my back. Give health to my heart and lungs. As I run increase my energy and my thinking capacity. Bolster my immune system. Strengthen my bones. You have given me the gift of movement. As I fly along the ground let me soak in the richness of the world you have created. Give me patience when I can’t do all I wish to do. Give me courage to push harder and further than my first instincts want. Help me to strike the balance between rest and reach. Teach me lessons while I run. Show me your character and perseverance by putting a new and deeper perseverance into me. I thank you for the gift of feet. I run the race you have set for me. I will not stop short. I will complete your course, for your honour Jesus.
Prayer for others
In long summer evenings when light lingers and sunsets have time to deepen from light pink to deep red – we offer You our thanks and praise.
We remember and hold before You people in your world where the fading of the light brings not only darkness but sadness and discomfort. May they know Your light.
When we gather and share food and laughter with friends, relatives, and those whom we love and also when we are content to eat alone – we offer You our thanks and praise.
We remember and hold before You those who today will share meals tainted with sadness, those who through no choice of their own eat alone, those who are hungry and have little food. May they soon know joy and plenty.
When we have been offered hospitality that was generous or unexpected – we have been blessed and we offer You our thanks and praise.
We remember and hold before You refugees and those who are strangers in a foreign land, those for whom exceptional warmth and hospitality would mean so much. May they know a rich welcome and ongoing support.
When someone who knows us a little, but not well, remembers our names – we offer You our thanks for their care and attentiveness.
We remember and hold before You those who have been forced to change names or those who forget their names – the overseas student in a culture that feels alien, those who have been trafficked, those living with dementia. May they know liberation and freedom.
And hear us too as we take time to remember and hold before You those caught up in the world wide crisis and lockdown caused by Covid-19. Minister to their needs we pray.
Ever creating, ever loving, ever encouraging God, we offer You our deep thanks. Use our gifts, talents and skills in the world so that our lives may tell out Your praise and where possible aid those whom we have remembered before You today.
Hear our prayers, through Jesus Christ our loving Saviour
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
you will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and forever.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
This day and forever more.