How Gary Linekar wiped the smile off my face ... but not for long!

Rt Rev Geoff Pearson is the Anglican Bishop of Lancaster
Rt Rev Geoff Pearson is the Anglican Bishop of Lancaster

It is cup final weekend. I go back 30 years to 1986 when my beloved Liverpool FC was playing local rivals, Everton.

I was leading a day for men in Woking on the south coast. Jumping into a taxi to get to the station, I asked the driver if he could turn to the cup final on his radio. Oh no! Gary Lineker had put Everton 1-0 up. And it was now half time.

I gloomily made my way back to my home in North London via various trains. Losing a cup final is one thing but to lose to your big rivals is quite another. As I waited for my last train at Seven Sisters station I asked a guard if he had heard the final score.

Oh yes, he said, Liverpool had won 1-3. What! I had experienced the previous couple of hours miserably gloomy on the basis of defeat when all the time I was on the victory side.

I didn’t really need a train after that, I felt so renewed and uplifted.

Not only had I good news of a cup final victory but I also had an illustration for my sermon the next day on the theme of the Ascension of Jesus.

That great event reminds us that Jesus is Lord and King. His victory over sin and death is sealed. Those who are Jesus followers are on the victory side. It is easy of course, as in my Woking experience, to imagine the worst.

We can feel that evil and darkness have the last word. Where is that light at the end of the tunnel?

The Ascension of Jesus is that light. After his post-resurrection appearances, convincing his friends He is indeed alive, Jesus is then parted from his disciples to a place of supreme power and authority in the universe.

The Victor, unseen but ever present, walking with us through good times and bad. The Ascension reminds me of one particular football victory; but far more important is the greater victory we can share in this life and the next.