Chariots of Fire--The movie, not the Bible story about Elijah...but they each have a lesson to teach. One is about a prophet who is caught up to heaven in a chariot of fire---Elijah, the prophet who worked miracles, who argued and struggled with kings and queens, who fought against false prophets and won, and then when his work on earth was done he rode in that fiery chariot into the great beyond. He was last seen on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus and Moses but he is expected at every Passover Seder each year to sit in an empty chair provided just for him. Once he appears...then the Messiah will come!
The other one, the one who is not Elijah....is a movie, made back in 1981, a movie that won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Song that year...."Chariots of Fire". It was about the life of Eric Liddell, a real person from Scotland who was an athlete and Christian missionary. He participated in the 1924 Olympics in Paris but refused to participate when a race was held on Sunday because of his Christian faith. He went on to win the gold medal for the 400 meter race and the bronze medal for the 200 meter race. After that, he returned to his native country and prepared to go to China as a missionary. He served in China until he was captured by the Japanese after they invaded China during WWII and was interned in a prison camp until his death in 1945. His inspiring story was the foundation for the movie.
The hymn, "Jesus Shall Reign" by Isaac Watts was considered to be a missionary hymn in Eric Liddell's day. The story is that as Liddell left the UK to go to China, that he received a huge send-off by many who supported him in many ways. As they gathered to hear him speak one more time before he left, he led them in singing this hymn. The hymn talks about how knowledge of Jesus Christ will spread throughout the world so that all would come to know him. Eric Liddell gave his life in Christian service for the rest of his life, until finally he gave up his life as a prisoner in a foreign land.
Such stories serve to inspire us to greater things in our own lives. Join us this Sunday, August 25, 2013 at Weimar United Church of Christ, as we sing the hymn and hear the story of Eric Liddell and perhaps catch a glimpse of a chariot of fire for our own lives that will carry us to do greater things for God and neighbor for the future. This is the last Sunday of August and it is still cool in our sanctuary, despite the summer heat! See you there!