The theme verse for this year’s Every Member Canvass, which culminates on Loyalty Sunday, November 13, is Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you to will and to work for God’s good pleasure.” St. Paul’s claim always reminds me of the fantastic 1981 film “Chariots of Fire,” and especially about the real-life Olympic runner whose life the movie portrays: Eric Liddell, known in his day as “The Flying Scotsman.” Liddell was the son of Scottish missionaries in the early twentieth century. He was made famous at the 1924 Olympics, when he refused to race in the 100 meter prelims, because they were scheduled on Sunday, and he would not break the Sabbath. Liddell’s entire life was formed by his relationship with God. And he experienced a connection between his running and the faith in God in which he had been formed.
After a long and wasting sickness, a man lay dying in his bed. He hadn’t been the best of husbands. He’d been an inattentive spouse, and his relationship with his wife often had been rocky, but as he lay dying the man suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite chocolate chip cookies wafting up the stairs. Smiling faintly, he gathered his strength, lifted himself from bed, and slowly made his way out of the bedroom. With great effort he climbed downstairs, gripping the railing with both hands.
It is 1956, and Bobby Fischer is a just a barely teenage kid who is good at chess. In May of that year, his rating is more than nine hundred points below the best players. Even so, in October, Bobby is invited to participate in the Rosenwald Memorial Tournament in New York City. [i] The tournament is reserved for the top twelve players in the United States, of which Bobby is not. His invitation is a kind of novelty.