“Fan into flame the gift of God that you possess” 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Written by Stephanie Barnes

This message was at the heart of the Flame Congress. Through exploring three of the Olympic values, friendship, respect and excellence a great message of empowerment was delivered to the thousands of Catholics gathered at Wembley arena. It was a great celebration of faith and a real witness to the vitality of the Church.

It was fantastic to see so many young people living out their faith and sharing their talents and testimonies at the congress. Excellence is both an Olympic value and a value which can be applied to our faith, along with values such as friendship and respect. Debbie Flood spoke about the determination required for long training sessions 6 days a week with only a few weeks holiday a year. The determination required when trying to reach an intangible future goal is much like living a Christian life in which eternal life is the future goal. Debbie spoke about the early starts and the temptation to roll over and go back to sleep. Sometimes living out the faith can be a struggle but through keeping Jesus at the centre of all that we do we are given the strength and willpower we need to continue. Debbie spoke about how Jesus plays such an important role in her life and whether she wins or loses her faith is of primary importance, this was a great message to hear.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:6-8

One message which particularly stood out for me was “be the best you can be”. David Wells spoke about the importance of not comparing ourselves to others but utilising the gifts and talents we have been given. We are made in the image and likeness of God who loves us just as we are. Once we know this we should be satisfied rather than striving to be someone other than who we are created to be; this was an extremely empowering message and one young people need to hear more often. Through embracing our individual gifts we can truly set the world on fire!

“Speak Lord, your servant is listening” 1 Samuel 3:10

It is in the silence of our hearts that we will hear the voice of God calling us to discern His plan for each of us. The powerful moment in which Fr Christopher Jamison led us into silence gave us the opportunity to reflect on the day, on our own lives and what God is calling us to do. There was a great stillness in the arena and I found that I became unaware of the 8,000 people around me, which brought a great depth to the moment of silence.

There was also a moment of Silence led by Margaret Mizen whose 16 year old son Jimmy was tragically killed in an unprovoked attack in 2008. The message given by the family was one of hope, peace and reconciliation; they do not want us to feel sorry for them but to instead actively seek to be the change we want to see in the world. If we do not want to live in a violent society we ourselves must not be violent. Through actively seeking to make a change we can build a better society in memory of Jimmy and all others who have lost their lives to violence.

The flame congress really was an inspirational day. We are each here to run the race and set the world ablaze. Through love and respect for God, ourselves and one another we can transform the world in which we live, extending a hand of friendship to our brothers and sisters in Christ as we strive for excellence and fan into flame the gifts we have each been given.

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This blog is a forum for discussion of ideas from a faith-based perspective. The views expressed on it are those of the authors and cannot be held to represent those of the Diocese of Nottingham or the University of Nottingham Catholic Chaplaincy.